View enlarged image of artist at work in his Jerusalem studio

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.

Moriah attended 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.

Moriah's works 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.

Past works

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.

After seeing 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.

The murals 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.





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