Journey in Israel with the artist Alex Levin
We are talking with an artist known to you – Alex Levin, a very creative Israeli artist, who was called by the founder of Facebook social networks Mark Zuckerberg long ago, asking the young man for forgiveness for deleting the artist’s page. After which, the sensational account was restored. Today, our hero prefers to acquaint the audience with his luxurious work through social networks instead of live exhibitions, which is very relevant and modern by today’s standards, trying not to recall the sensational situation with Facebook, moreover, his stunning pictures filled with endless speak much better , an ardent love for Israel, where he repatriated from Kiev at age 15. Levin also accumulated a huge number of photos of the Holy Land, and all the cities of this fertile country of milk and honey, its birds, flowers, animals, landscapes, unearthly beauties. On his canvases – and objects of ancient priceless Judaica, and stunning majestic Jerusalem, and free and easy Tel Aviv, and wise rabbis, and Jewish holidays, and charming Jewish children, and the endless theme of the SHOAH. We talked about what new and important has happened in the life of Alex Levin recently, how he lives and breathes, what he is working on.
– Alex, we have not talked for a long time about what is happening today in your creative life, where do you get inspiration from?
– Last time we discussed my paintings on the Holocaust. This does not mean that I have finished this series and will not return to it anymore. On the contrary, I believe that the artist should always think for a long time about the old subjects, which he had once been overwhelmed with, to approach them somehow in a new way. For me, the topic of the Holocaust is very important. Every time I try to think and expand it with some fresh images. The ideas of the drawings come to me in a completely incomprehensible way; it’s hard for me to explain this. I can work, or walk along the street, watch a movie, and some thought comes down from above, representing a complete canvas, and I must certainly write it down, sketch it in a notebook that is always with me. Often, I wake up in a dream and see pictures. It is unclear how this happens, as if someone from above sends me some messages, thoughts. I really have a lot of ideas and projects. At the moment, I am working on a series of paintings entitled “Colors of Judaism” - this will be an unusual and complex series of paintings. In it I will try to see and imagine Jerusalem as I have not done it before. Prior to this, I painted the pictures quite realistic, and difficulties arose to demonstrate Jerusalem only on one of them, and even from all sides, and so that the whole Old City, the whole Wailing Wall was visible there.
– What helps you in your work, what supports it?
“It helps me a lot when I present the ancient sacred prayers of the Jews, for a thousand years, I have the most important task – to pour out all this spirit, all the tears shed by the Jews mourning for the destroyed Temple. One fine day, I really wanted to depict all the millennia of Jewish history on canvas. This series is now in full swing, it will consist of 50-60 paintings, today there are already 20. People perfectly feel the good magical aura and energy emanating from my drawings, which is insanely pleasant, I am doing my job with all my heart.
– You are an active user of social networks, I personally see that a huge number of subscribers sincerely love your creations. What is the secret of folk love for you, for your paintings?
– My secret is simple, I travel a lot around the Holy Land, discovering a lot of unexplored places where I have not been before. For example, just two weeks ago, with his good friend, he looked into the tunnels of the Kotel. A friend revealed to me the secrets of Kotel and the city where tourists have never set foot. Of course, there are tunnels where the guests of Israel are still allowed, but in my case, this was not so, I walked along untouched roads. There, inside, in front of my gaze is that Jerusalem, which is just beginning to be excavated from the deep deposits of time. After that, I clearly understood that the history of this great city goes into the depths, and today, archaeologists are grinding the ground like a strainer, sifting buckets of earth and sand, in search of grains of the past. Of course, everything I saw very much influenced me. What is Jewish history? This is, first of all, the Wailing Wall, and under it – the whole world. And the most interesting thing is that under the Wailing Wall, under this level, today they are preparing a pedestrian zone, a grandiose art complex with a large museum. Creating the paintings, studying our history, seeing how archaeologists dig our land, involuntarily recharge from all this with creative energy, create, paint with paints on canvas. I emphasize that it is very important for me to live in Israel, trample on my feet and feel this land. Because then there are pictures of a different level. There is no country more beautiful than ours. There is something real, genuine here, for which I want to cling to. Once, at one time I heard and remembered the cult phrase of Rabbi Nachman from Bratslav: “The sanctity of Israel is so great that the human mind cannot comprehend it.” I consider my historical homeland a unique wonder of the world, which people dream of touching. I love discovering new places here, creating and living here.
– Recently, he returned from an amazing place for birds and animals, called “Hula Valley”. This is the largest reserve in the world, where all the birds flying from Europe to Africa gather, Israel for them is a transit zone. Part remains to winter with us, part – flies to even hotter edges. I confess that I personally see sixty thousand cranes at dawn and at sunset, to see this miracle – a beautiful, impeccable sight, I consider it a great happiness. Previously, birds destroyed Israeli fields with crops, birds ate everything, and to prevent this from happening again, they bring 8 tons of corn to their stay every day. One of my favorite locations, where I also like to take walks, and where I prefer to take a number of photographs, is the hot sands of the Jewish state. These days, I walk 30-40 kilometers at a time through the Judean desert, after which you can return home by another person. For me, it’s like a time machine. Traveling to the desert to the Bedouins, in an hour, as on a wheel of time, I fall into the period of a thousand-year history. I see before me the same biblical mountains that Abraham contemplated, camels, the bottomless sky, the same flocks of sheep that our ancestors grazed, the tents of the Bedouins, leading the same old life, without electricity, and like many years ago. Children of these nations do not go to school, engaged in ancient crafts and cattle breeding. Only being close to this antiquity, you understand how people can easily enjoy completely simple, elementary things. They are in no hurry, just as they were before. I even once spent the night with the Bedouins, they sleep on the roof of jeeps, because it is easier for them to breathe at night, merging strongly with nature, which has become their part. When I am there, I can’t stop looking and enjoy all this splendor. The most charming desert appears to me during sunrises and sunsets, in a powerful stream of light energy. Somewhere in the distance, the Dead Sea shines with eternity, over which the huge rays of the sun rise, illuminating the sands. There you can feel for yourself all these colors of nature, relax, think about some things that are hard to think about in the bustle of the city. A couple of days of such rest is enough for me, after which you return to the city, as if you had lived for ages. Time in the desert moves very slowly and goes very differently. But one should be well prepared for a visit to the desert, know the route exactly, go there with a person who knows the roads. Going there ourselves is very dangerous, once, we did not calculate the amount of water we took with us at a summer temperature of up to 50 degrees, and we had a very hard time. The desert melted, it was difficult to breathe in it, it was monstrously heated. We did not cancel the trip to it, as we had already agreed. I just wondered how to survive there in such a heat. But in such tests, true friends always pass the strength test.
I am not a professional photographer, but I like to peep at the true beauty and fix it on the camera. These frames then help me in my work. For example, when you write Bedouins, you should have a certain number of shots from their hands, views, emotions. After this “photo-hunt” I put everything in separate folders. My pictures then come in handy in my painting activities. I note that I do not work on photos, the latter only help to clarify the nuances and subtleties, some details. Jerusalem is advised to photograph from high points, only in this way you can achieve the most amazing rare species and unusual photos. I recommend that guests of the city do not walk along the tourist streets, but climb, for example, to the Tower of David, where an interesting museum is open, an observation deck from where an incomparable view of the whole old city is scattered. I love to take pictures of fabulous Jerusalem from the rooftops. As an artist, I went around the whole city, and now I am watching it from a height and from different angles, which I also recommend to other lovers of Israeli sights.
Article by: Yana Lubarskaya