Avrum’s Art – Interview with: Avrum Rosensweig By Liz Pearl @ PK Press

It was a pleasure learning more about Avrum—the blossoming artist, including his artistic vision, passion, inspiration, style and technique. Definitely, Avrum’s art is soulful, full of bold colours and rich textures. I think it’s safe to say, the future for Avrum’s art is bright and promising. There is so much to explore vis a vis Avrum’s art: the intersections of art and Judaism, art and natural beauty, and art and social justice. I look forward to Avrum’s continued artistic expression via painting or possibly other creative media.

My first real piece of art was created when I was five years old in kindergarten at Shepherd Public School. I painted a Bobby‒an English policeman. Ms. Baynan, my teacher, announced to the class what a fine artist I was. I was kvelling. But I didn’t pursue art until 1995, when I was 35 years old. It was then I decided to buy three canvasses, acrylic paint and brushes, this after purchasing a 3-D plastic fruit composition on a cardboard backing and framed.

I set about painting my first three paintings, of countryside scenes. Each one seemed to get progressively better and looking back I am surprised at my intuitive ability to create shadows and understand light.  I guess I would say that was an ‘aha’ moment.  After those three, I stopped painting until 2000.  It was then I dove into my new hobby, painting. Since then I’ve produced 10-20 paintings a year.

I paint so that I can create a true reflection of what I see as possible, otherwise described as pursuing truth. My impetus for painting is to make something as beautiful and joyful as possible as did Rembrandt, so those who view it might recognize the beauty, hence the Godliness of the world we share. If I can enhance someone else’s life through my art that gives me great satisfaction.

Real Carnations – 2015

I have memories of my mother (Gitel Rosensweig z”l) taking my siblings and me to the Art Gallery of Ontario. My parents had copies of classics hanging in our house such as Monet, Van Gough and some Judaica. Yeshiva was/is basically void of art‒the concept being we should not create something in God’s image. Perhaps that has changed.

There always seems to be a disconnect between art and Judaism possibly because of Torah edict not to create something in the image of God. But since the establishment of Israel we have been witness to many incredibly creative artists like Agam and Rubin. Israeli art has gone past the traditional picture of rabbis and Yeshiva Bochurim and now reflect bold colours and depictions of many aspects of the Jewish people and our history. I try, when I can to include a Magen David on the walls of the villages I paint and over time have

The Jewish Village 2 – 2019 (oil on canvas)

Ve’ahavta is a creative environment. We have held innovative art shows over the years, created by those living on or near the street. That has been a fascinating journey and reflective of some outstanding art.

I have seen some very compelling art linked to social activism in my time. One such example that comes to mind is penitentiary art done by a lifer, Peter, who killed a policeman. His art was dark and reflected the torturous existence inside those walls and behind the barbed wire.  This always stuck with me.  There is a plethora of examples of art connected to social activism, including graffiti and street art. Art, I would argue, has brought change to our world, sometimes positive and other times negative.  

I have been told by an art teacher a number of years ago, I am a Fauvist. Fauvism is defined: (literal definition: wild beasts) – “Works that emphasized…strong colour over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism.” -Wikipedia. Henri Matisse was a Fauvist.

Over time, some images have really moved me and compelled me to paint them. I never quite know where I might be inspired. I paint a lot of villages generally surrounded by lush gardens and/or fields, landscapes and frequently water and waves. I believe, in my head, that is where I live.

Trees of Hope – 2019

Over the years I have painted a few hundred pieces, the vast majority which I have stored in my locker. I have given a few away to family and friends but mostly I’ve always felt I wanted to enjoy my art. Selling my art or giving too much of it away, would cause me to miss my pieces too much. So I keep them.

Sefad – a mystical town in Israel – 2018

I’ve painted my fair share of portraits. They all look sad however and strangely, despite my pursuit of joy, I haven’t figured out how to paint a smile, only grins. Perhaps some of my art reflects the melancholy nature from within me.

My themes and subjects have found their way to canvasses organically, intuitively.  I discovered early I love flowers, trees and forests. One painting I did in the early 2000s, in perhaps a half an hour, was a plant with leaves seeming to hang in the air, blow in the wind. When I looked at it, I felt for a moment I’d figured out art. But then I set about painting again and quickly realized there was much more to unearth.

I stare at the canvass for a lot longer than I paint.  A determination of one singular brush stroke could take an hour or more to figure out. There have been times I’ll look at a picture I’ve painted and cry. At those moments I’ve touched my own soul. For some reason I have a knack for painting eyes, some grey and some green, with much expression. Again, while I have practiced painting eyes ultimately underlined as I am channeling something or someone when I create eyes.

For a while I would lay dead roses down on a canvass and then drip liquid acrylic on them, and then put down a coat of gloss. The affect is magnificent and my sister and brother-in- law, who received one, commented on how it changes colour as the light shines through.

I have used acrylic paints, water paints and oils. I love oils because of their depth of colour. I love my pallet knives as I feel more in control with them. My art is highly textured. I just enjoy slapping oodles of paint on a canvass. There is nothing greater than leaving my art room, staring at my picture from afar and seeing it drenched in yellows, blues, greens and even blacks and browns. I find this exciting. Much of my clothing has paint on it, even some expensive Shabbat suits. Ugh. I once read; the way to know if you’re an artist is by looking at your wardrobe and seeing if it is covered in paint.

Vincent van Gogh has inspired me more than any other artist. I have been fascinated by his choice of themes and subjects as examples, “The Potato Pickers” and enjoyed “Starry Night”.

My personal inspiration came one day in 1995. I walked into a pawn shop and saw a 1 foot x 1 1/2 foot piece with plastic fruits fixed into a canvass board. It was then I decided to paint as I so admired the positioning of those plastic fruits. I am deeply inspired by babbling brooks, and vineyards and cascading trees and branches. I still have that picture. And I love it!  

I adore my studio in my condominium. It is about twelve feet wide and 10’feet long with eight foot ceilings. I have spent hours painting there, sipping on a coffee and listening to music more times than I can remember. From paint clothes to pajamas – and I’m good to go. Lately my studio has been getting crowded with pictures and I need to pair the room down a bit so I can stretch my creativity. Guests love the studio. It’s unusual, unique and beautiful.

I do not belong to a community of artists although I’ve read and written a tad, about many artists. I’ve had a couple of teachers and I delight in having an artist over to discuss art and critique my work.

Artists throughout history have frequently been writers too. Once again Vincent kept all his letters to his brother, Theo, communications that were literary in nature, filled with love and passion. I think there is a correlation between art and writing. I often sense it. While art is the pursuit of combining a plethora of colours and shapes, writing is a bid to combine letters and words to create some sort of story or report. At the end of the daunting both are creative constructions of sorts.

Mostly I don’t travel in artist circles and am isolated when it comes to my art. I surf the web a lot to find today’s best artists and enjoy going on YouTube and witnessing the painting – from start to finish‒of a portrait, a waterscape or a landscape. I have learned tremendous amounts about the use of colours, materials, and really all aspect of art.

Over the years I have painted a few hundred pieces, the vast majority which I have stored in my locker. I have given a few away to family and friends but mostly I’ve always felt I wanted to enjoy my art. Giving it up or selling it would cause me to miss them too much.

I would like to do a few more art shows but am not sure if I would sell my pieces. I’m hoping I continue to learn more technique and develop a greater understanding of colour. I would like to produce more beautiful pieces and hopefully use them to enhance my life, my son’s and perhaps some people’s around me.

***

Look for Avrum on Facebook or Instagram for more glimpses of his creative art.

Avrum Rosensweig is the Founder & Ambassador of www.veahavta.org and a columnist at www.cjnews.com, and the host of his recently launched podcast series: Hat Radio—the show that schmoozes.

Liz Pearl is the Director of PK Press and a blogger at WordPress: Pearls of Wisdom.

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