Artist Statement

Alex Levin

Judaic Art

When I came to Israel and I went to Jerusalem for the very first time in 1990, I was amazed with the beauty of it, because this city is absolutely heavenly and the light which shines from it, I just felt I must capture this in a series of paintings, and ever since then Jerusalem for me has become the cornerstone of my art.
For me, Jerusalem is a city… there's a parable that's written in the Talmud, that says God gave the world beauty and split in into 10 pieces and 9 of them he gave to Jerusalem, and the remaining one he gave to the rest of the world. Jerusalem is a city simply divine, the way I see and sense it, is the way I try to convey it on the canvas.
In Ukraine, I knew very little about Judaism, for eight years I didn't even know I was Jewish myself, because there it was not discussed, and except for maybe Hanukkah we had no Jewish holidays or celebrations, and when we came to Israel and I saw this huge world and the people in it, and it became so important for me, to dedicate a part of my life to this and to create a series of paintings, composed of Jewish holidays, how Jewish people live even 100 years ago and my last series of paintings, I can even show you, it's about Jewish people who lived in Poland, in Ukraine, it's places that today we won't see anymore because it was all destroyed in the days of the Holocaust. It's very important for me to show people the way of everyday living and the beauty of Judaism that was present in the 19th century.
The colors that I use, here you can see Jerusalem, Jerusalem that's awakening at 6 or 4:30 in the morning. The colors in which it is submerged are some sort of divine light, and when I am painting it's important for me to capture not what I see necessarily, but what I think, what I wish to convey through my emotions unto the canvas, with the help of paints. And for that reason, Jerusalem in my paintings has different colors, sometimes purple, pink, in orange tones, and every time I begin to paint Jerusalem, it's important for me what kind of Jerusalem will it be; Jerusalem at sunset, or during sunrise.
In this painting, as in many others of my paintings, I depict only Jewish symbols; The Western Wall, Jewish neighborhoods, Jewish architecture.
Why there's no Golden dome here?
Because I leave a place, hopefully that in time there will be the place of the Third temple. We know that the first two temples were destroyed approximately 2000 years ago and for me it's important to paint specifically Jewish symbols. The golden dome, we know that it is standing on the very spot upon which once the Temple stood, that is why I am hoping that there will later be build a third temple, I try not to paint a mosque, more accurately it is not a mosque it's referred to as the Dome of the rock. I paint Jerusalem without the things that are bothering me, for instance cars, buses, things that can be seen in Jerusalem, I try to paint a perfect city, where this divine sky shines upon this city can be seen, and a golden city under that skyline.

Alex Levin

Venice Art

 

The old saying in Venice says, "The long nose of the mask is the Venetian Symbol".
You put the mask on when you want to be different; to hide your feelings, your purposes, have your little intrigues and remain undiscovered.
From the ancient times, Venetian masks were made to represent faces of mystical characters, never seen but believed to exist.
The Venice itself is the city in mask and through that mask that enchanted city is looking on the surrounding world.
"Venice through the mask's eyes" that is how I named the series of work, where he is looking in the eyes of every one of his mask, and discovers for us the most sensitive places of the treasury of Venice.
When the series of masks would be completed and brought together, we would see the gold of costumes and silver of laces and masks... masks... masks, and also the mirror reflection of the most breath taking performance in the world - the Venice Carnival.

It is impossible to change destiny. But there is a place on the Earth where time in a year it is possible to change much - the person, clothes, habits, desires, a floor, age. From the slave to turn to Emperor, from the Cinderella in Princess, from tortured by children and Cares of the housewife in seductive KOLOMBINU, from prudent businessman in the carefree HARLEQUIN.
To go through all these wonderful TRANSFORMATIONS, it is necessary only to appear in VENICE in February.
Imagine: you go on dark and confusing Venetian street length ways coast of the narrow channel. Winter. Night. Fog. Smells as oranges. And, as oranges, shine in fog dim and yellow Venetian lanterns. You are far from the center and up to you noise of celebratory crowd does not reach.
And suddenly on hardly covered smooth surface of the channel there is a strange shadow, and silence breaks whisper of the waves chased by an oar of a gondola. You hasten to the nearest bridge- there from it is more convenient to watch how the phantom gradually finds outlines. First the raincoat and a cocked hat appear. Then, gradually, from darkness there is the white mask covering eyes and a nose. Below - a piece black silks, pleated which are hidden a mouth and a chin. A phantom slowly floats under the bridge and disappears in darkness. You remember this vision on all the life and sensation of the Miracle will not leave you in all days of the Venetian carnival.
The areas and streets, channels and bridges of the most beautiful and the strangest in the world cities at this time turn to a huge stage on which it is developed grandiose action of the most fascinating in the entire world performance - Venetian Carnival.
In Venice it is possible to buy masks and suits, which on few days will change your appearance, and, maybe, and your life. Children's dreams aspirations of the mature person, senile hopes - all it can be executed these days. It is enough to put on only a mask, to forget about realities and to merge with crowd above which soar spirit of the miracle, sensation of the holiday and aroma of love. As if bright beams of the spring sun, the carnival rushes into crude and foggy Venetian winter.
And in a flash the all around blast in the gold of suits, silver of laces, heavenly colors of capes, silks of raincoats, greens of wreaths. However among this violence of paints, as the reminder about eternal, is not present and the black mask of Death will fly. Remember, the person, passes all! That is why have fun, walk, drink, sing, dance, love today. In fact tomorrow there will be nothing. Only to it such mysticism and magic. Perhaps, it is obliged to a winter fog which, as if a veil, covers figures in masks, giving to them still the big mystery and mysteriousness? And can, the matter is that itself immersed on a bottom of a gulf - Venice?

Alex Levin

Symphony of Rain

 

Venice is a truly magical place. It’s a museum-city, sea-city, dream-city. Venice cannot be seen with an outsider’s eyes – cannot be felt with an outsider’s heart.
Often enough, the name of a city arouses certain associations or memories in a person. In the same way, I associate the name ‘Venice’, first and foremost, with the smell of the sea and the shrieks of seagulls. Perhaps, there is no other city like Venice – slave to the sea, its gifts, its morals. And there is not a single place in this world that preserved its uniqueness and historical integrity like Venice.
Anyone who has visited Venice at least once will feel a connection with this magical location on the globe. Venice is so tiny in size that as you fly over it, it disappears out of view before you know it. But in the number of art works and architecture there is no such place on the planet.
I had never seen a city more beautiful than Venice. It is utter enchantment, brilliance and joy of life. It has canals for streets and alleyways, and gondolas for cars. The architecture is astounding, and there is not one place that does not arouse a historical or artistic interest. You just glide in a gondola, observing the Doges’ Palaces and Desdemona’s house, the homes of famous artists and churches… And the sculptures and paintings in the churches are of beauty no one ever dreamed of. One word: enchantment.
The first time I visited Venice I was 17, and I was absolutely astounded by the city. I wanted to live there. I wanted to dissolve in the colours of this lagoon. I wanted to be a part of this mystery-city. And this was no coincidence, for this city does not leave anyone indifferent.
Once, Frédéric Chopin and George Sand watched raindrops streaming down the window, and Chopin noticed so much music and improvisation in the drops. It is because we see a second of this moment and then everything changes.
The Venetian lagoon has its own unique light and colours, especially when it’s raining and everything is immersed into a mystical mist. I tried to depict how, through the streaming raindrops and to Vivaldi’s, Bach’s, Handel’s and others’ music, a painting is born – one that you can not only see but also hear. At times, when paints stream down the canvas like raindrops, they bare new compositions and improvisations.
That was when I had the idea to create a series of musical paintings called ‘A Symphony of Rain’.
I draw the music of the rain!
Music usually arouses certain thoughts and feelings in me, gives rise to memories. And this image that sprung in my imagination can be drawn. My painting itself acquires musicality, almost as if melodies resound from my canvas.
Music has always been my inspiration. The oil paints are my notes, and the brush is my musical instrument.
“A Good painting is a music and a melody which intellect only can appreciate,” said the great Italian artist, Michelangelo Buonarroti.
Ilya Repin noted that the colourful flavour of Rembrandt’s paintings sounds like marvellous orchestra music.
It’s hard to name a composer, who has not reflected his fascination with nature in his music. The sound of rain, songs of the birds, the iridescent water streams sparkling in the sun… All these sounds of nature inspired composers to produce their musical masterpieces.
Music often brings various images of nature to mind. Nature and art are inseparable because nature enters each person’s life forever from childhood.
Claude Debussy, for instance, was an exceptional master of sound painting. The composer was deeply influenced not only by music but also paintings and poetry.
In the search for new means of musical expressiveness, Claude Debussy made a number of discoveries in and around harmony. With the help of new and unusual techniques, the composer conveys nature’s tiniest details – the play of light and shadow, sun glares, the splash of streams…
Listening to musical work can heighten people’s senses and unite them. Human hearts are connected with an incredible symphony of sounds.
The paintings portray cathedrals, palaces, bridges, gondoliers on their amazing boats – light, gentle, big-nosed birds that barely touch the water and shudder at the slightest wave. And everything, from the sky to the ground is inundated with the sun. It all appears instantly to the sounds of divine music of the brush and paints on the painting.
Each paintings was inspired by the music of different composers.
One painting completes the other, one composer is replaced by another, the misty morning transforms into a rainy evening and star-filled sky over the lagoon: a puzzle of forty paintings describing the dream-city on water – VENICE!
I compare Venice’s frailty with the drops streaming down the window. This pearl-city descends lower and lower beneath the water surface almost every day. And all that is left to do is imprint this moment in our memories – this moment of joy.
Like a raindrop, one day it can completely disappear underwater in an instant, and I find it important, as an artist, to stop time on my canvases, and, with their help, father new paintings under the name ‘A Symphony of Rain’.

Vanished World

 

When I think about 6 million Jews who died during the Holocaust, I can’t believe this figure as it is the whole world, the whole eternity.

I’ve been coming to this series of paintings for many years, I thought a lot, tried to go through and feel that terror of torture and sorrow that my people had gone through during the Holocaust. But each time I put my paintbrush aside because I felt the time for me to create such an important series of works hadn’t come yet. Just recently, having listened to the people, who had gone through this catastrophe, and having looked over hundreds of books and films, I’ve decided to create a series of paintings called “Vanished World”.

Each painting is a whole world where by means of different Jewish symbols and elements I try to convey the terror and pain which the Jews felt in the last minutes of their lives. Through the variety of shades of paints, colours and light I try to look into that black abyss which millions of innocent Jews, who got into gas chambers and death camps, where almost no one survived, ended up in.

 In that horrible time the sky became their cemetery, because the ash, smoke and fire coming out of chimneys were all that was left from old people, women and children. Children are a crucial theme for me in this series as almost 1.5 million children died. All that remained from their stolen childhood is their toys, dolls, clothes, suitcases that their parents had brought. And only things remained… people were disappearing…

Heinrich Heine said long ago:

“Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people as well.” He said that a hundred years before the Holocaust in Europe.