My paintings attempt to grasp the transcendent meaning of Judaism by focusing on the dual interpretation of images and words, the fusion and confusion of the space-time continuum, and the mixing and melding of past present and future. Some of my paintings are filled with anthropomorphized Hebrew letters, musical notes, trees and flowers, and images of adults with fetal appendages and umbilical cords conveying the transience of life.

Biblical Hebrew contains many words with multiple meanings. The meaning of some words can be radically changed by a mere alteration of pronunciation or textual context, or a single letter substitution. These linguistic elements have led to the wealth of Jewish literary interpretation, to the reams and mountains of medrashim, and to the ever evolving reinterpretations and applications of the biblical narrative to contemporary times and sensibilities. Many of my paintings combine the multiplicity of meanings of the Hebrew biblical text with the multiplicity of meanings of visual images derived from these different literary interpretations of scripture thereby resulting in explosive new transcendent visual and literary interpretations of the Jewish holidays and biblical stories.

For some of the holiday paintings I have attempted to articulate the transcendent message of the holiday by fusing images and words derived from the Torah and Haftorah scriptures and specific prayers for that particular holiday. Each painting thus creates fusion imagery of disparate biblical characters and concepts in different historical space-time coordinates into one holistic story. By retaining fragments of the different stories, each individual story is told, and a new creative story is told for the first time, providing multiple layers of meaning to the original stories, and an altogether new level of understanding of Judaism.

Other word-fusion principles I employ include crosswords, and words within words. Whole sentences with one meaning have other sentences embedded within these words with different colors conveying yet another subtext of meaning. Some paintings make use of the principle of taking stories of the individual biblical characters from sequential chronological periods of their lives and jumbling them into one narrative as though each story is a single point in the space-time continuum and lives not only in the past or future, but in the never ending present. The concept of the everlasting present is a specifically Jewish one, and is confirmed by our cyclical weekly reading of the Torah, and the feeling that each Passover we ourselves have been liberated from Egyptian bondage.

Because the language of the Bible is Hebrew, and thus the interpretation of its imagery can only come from Hebrew Sources, I predominantly use only Hebrew characters and words both ancient and modern. I also use Yiddish words and Egyptian hieroglyphics where necessary to add historical and contemporary textual and visual nuance.

It is my sincerest hope that my body of work will serve as midrashic, Dvar-Torah paintings, and as a post-modern illuminated manuscript. The fusion of images, of words, of space –time coordinates ultimately leads to a multifaceted perception of an infinitely changing reality, of G-d.

Nahum HaLevi