Avner Moriah was born in
Jerusalem in 1953, where he now lives and works. His childhood was infused with
the history of the Jewish people; his character shaped by the hard events of
the beginning of the State. Moriah addresses the Jewish experience head-on,
with no illusions. He does not flinch from painting hard subjects
in addition to tackling Israel's 1948 War of Independence and hersubsequent
wars, he has completed a series on the Shoah and another on the Expulsion of
the Jews from Spain. Given this background, it is a natural development for
Moriah to return to the original stories of his people for the stuff and inspiration
for the murals in this catalogue: the Gathering at Mount Sinai
the story of the Jewish People's beginning and the receiving of the Torah
and the Women's Zodiac, chronicling the strong feminine figures of Jewish history.
the Bezalel Academy of Art and Architecture, where he received his BFA in 1980.
The following year, he went to the United States to study contemporary figurative
art at Yale University's Graduate School of Art and Architecture. There he earned
an MFA and learned an important lesson that would serve him through his adult
life as a painter only hard and incessant work would
give him the skills he needed to transform his mental images to visual form
on canvas. As a result of his education and perseverance, his paintings are
strongly imbued with traditional drawing techniques and structure, which he
applies to the demands of the light and colors of the Middle East. The result
is a unique style reflected both in his paintings of the Israeli landscape and
in his subject paintings.
have been acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum of New
York, the Israel Museum and the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC,
among others. His paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout
North and South America, Israel, and Europe and are included in corporate and
private collections worldwide.
Moriah documents the
land and cityscapes of Israel painting the sunlight
as it falls upon the slopes and stone buildings, creating a mosaic of colors
and shapes. He paints the changing topography of Israel, traveling up and down
the African-Syrian rift the gateway of mankind from
Africa to the Middle East and beyond capturing its
light and air, its hills and valleys, and the civilization that has hunkered
down along its length.
He also tackles
the harder things. Throughout the 1980s, he worked on a series of paintings
on Israel's wars, where he painted the people, courtyards, trees and hills of
an interrupted homeland; the armies that fight the wars and the people that
endure them; the delicate balance between the domestic and the military; the
violence that erupts when the two clash. There are no battle scenes, but the
canvases are documents of war.
Claude Lanzman's film Shoah, Moriah completed 15 canvases on the Holocaust.
He did not try to imitate the visual historical documents, but studied them
and learned from them. For the paintings, he chose colors that were unearthly
and attractive, seducing the viewer into coming closer. He then confronts them
with the symbols of the murderers and their victims; stadia and showers; cabarets
and crematoria, and places them together on the same canvases. The bodies of
the victims take on the attitude of dancers involved
in a communal dance with death.
On the occasion
of the 500th anniversary of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, Moriah depicted
the magnitude of an event as catastrophic as the dispersion of the Jews of Israel
from their homeland by the Romans in the 1st century CE. He told the story of
this recurring Jewish drama and the difficult choices each individual had to
make to remain true to their faith or convert, to
leave behind what is known for that which is unknown, to stay behind with the
old and sick or flee for their lives, to practice their faith in the open or
go underground and hope the storm will pass.
A wall mural
entitled "Against the Odds" was dedicated on the occasion of Israel's
50th anniversary to the fighters who created the State of Israel. The mural
presents narrative images of young fighters, survivors of the concentration
camps of Europe, refugees from Arab countries, and the children of the kibbutzim,
who defeated the armies of seven Arab nations. Closer to total annihilation
than they could afford to admit, they drew their strength from their commitment
to their mission, their belief in themselves and the knowledge that this was
the Jews' last stand in a world that had turned its back on them. The mural
is on permanent display in Ammunition Hill Memorial Museum in Jerusalem.
For each series,
Moriah immersed himself in material that would serve as background and inspiration,
reading the source texts, combing museums and libraries for archival works and
artistic interpretations, coming up with a unique visual language that would
both capture the atmosphere of each subject and express his interpretation of
the events. For Moriah, the process of translating intellectual concepts and
emotional impulses into visual form invariably involves the creation of hundreds
of sketches before arriving at the final imagery.
in this catalogue are a continuation of the artist's life-long commitment to
create a visual chronicle of the history and events of the Jewish people.