The Vibe of Alex Levin’s Jewish Paintings
I’m taking an interview with the Israeli artist Alex Levin.
“Alex, what age did you start drawing and please tell me when did you come to Israel and how did you start your life in Israel?”
– I started painting very early when I was 6 years old when I took paper and pencils and I realized that I cannot live without it. So many years have passed and I continue and continue to paint.
In Kiev, I graduated from an Art school and when I was ninetieth year old, my family and I immigrated to Israel. Israel is an amazing country and fall in love with it at first sight. When I saw this light, this sun, the ocean of people smiles, new smells, I realized that I got home.
“Alex, the theme of Judaism goes through all your work. Could you tell why this theme is so important in your paintings?”
– They say that my ancestors Levites sang in the Jerusalem Temple two thousand years ago and probably there is something in the genes. Judaism theme is very important to me. This is one of the main topics that I devote all my time. In order to better study the topic of Judaism and in order for the paintings to become more believable, I spent a lot of time in the Jewish areas of Jerusalem, communicated with religious people and tried to live the life that today’s Jews live in the areas of Jerusalem. I try to imagine how Jews lived in small towns 100 years ago somewhere in Ukraine, Belarus and Poland, and I try to open the curtain and door and imagine how they kept shabbat, how their kids when to schools, how they went to the synagogue and how they prayed. Most of the Jews lived in small towns (Shtetls). This beautiful world unfortunately disappeared after the WWII and most of those people vanished in concentration camps. In order to better understand what the towns looked like in Europe, I went to Poland to see how Jews lived before, what they saw and how they prayed. Unfortunately, after visiting Poland, there was a very sad impression, since there were practically no Jews there, and only from the stories of local residents it was possible to find out what happened to them in those terrible days of war and disaster.
“Alex, What do you paint with?”
– All my paintings are painted with oil on canvas, this is a very difficult job where sometimes it takes a lot of time to get a good painting. I have small miniature paintings and very large size works.
“Alex, but nevertheless the most unusual pictures are those pictures where there is light. Divine light that comes from your paintings. Can you tell us more?”
– You correctly noticed that light is one of the most important things in my paintings because with light we can tell a lot in the picture. With the help of light one can extract the most important thing in the picture. For example, the portrait of an old Jew, the smile of children, the light of the Torah. The work with light is important in my paintings, also in Rembrandt’s paintings, which through light and darkness conveyed the essence of a person’s character and his temple. I also try to follow these great artists of the past.
“Alex are you a religious person or not?”
– I am not a religious person, but I follow traditions, I observe holidays. Few times a year I go to the synagogue. I very often visit Jerusalem and other places connected with Judaism.
“Tell us Alex, who are your customers who buy your paintings?”
– My paintings of Judaism sold all over the world. Both Jews and non-Jews collecting my paintings. All that unites these people is their love for Israel and Jerusalem, their love for Jewish traditions. My Jewish paintings are often printed on calendars that distributed all over the world as well as lithographs and reproductions. There are also many different product with my artworks.
“Thank you very much Alex, I would like to ask what would be your next series of paintings?”
– I’m currently working on a large series of abstract paintings of Jerusalem called Colors of Judaism, where I am trying with new techniques, new media, new colors to convey the vibe that Jews feel in the synagogue and during prayer. This is a large series of paintings that I dedicate all my time now.