Jan Menses
Kaddish Series on the Holocaust - Shoah
Kaddish Series
Kaddish Prayer
Kaddish Paintings
Kaddish Drawings
Klippoth Series
Klippoth Series
Klippoth Early Works
Klippoth Later Works
Tikkun Series
Tikkun Series
Tikkun Paintings
Diabolica Series
Diabolica Series
Diabolica Etchings
Diabolica Paintings
Color Works Series
Color Works Series
Color Works Paintings
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Early Portraits
Early Drawings
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Lithography Series
Shvirat Hakelim Series
Surrealistic Inks Series
Doomed Children Series
The Stages of a Painting 1
The Stages of a Painting 2
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Portraits by Orly Yahalom
Holocaust Survivor Ima Nadia
Gallery Under Construction
Bibiliographies on the Artist

The Work of Avraham Jan Menses:
An Appreciation by Rivka Malchi

The compelling and precisely wrought artworks of Avraham Menses are a condensation of moral perspectives into visual, poetic form.  These solemn, monochromatic works bear witness to an imagination and overview that is both highly personalized as well as deeply informed by kabbalistic thought.

Yet for many, the robotic, mechanical figures that lurk and struggle within a landscape of strict geometries arouse a perception of spiritual torment that is more unsettling than a cinematic display of graphic blood and violence.  An instinctive rejection of these drawings and their encapsulation of various dark levels of existence may represent our own inability to face the depths and pains of the human dilemma.

On immediately viewing Menses' art, one is assaulted by the breathtaking infinitude of blackness that condenses reality to the bare bones of light and darkness.  This blackness connotes the disorder of the moral world and the contraction of G-d's intelligence and holiness.  A landscape is created when the infinitude of blackness intersects with the definite and finite forms of architecture.  Walls, columns, geometric configurations, and bifurcating planes are used to create either formal theatrical stages peopled with figures of symbolic import (as in the Diabolica series) or surreal abstract expressionistic and futuristic cinematic sets (as in the klippoth series).  In Avraham Menses' exacting hand, the meticulousness of these surreal sets and dramas seem to allow for a glimpse into a netherworld that is as real and significant as the physical world.

As captivated as we are by these mysterious dramas and scenarios, we are aware the most important player is off-stage and unrevealed.  The physical structures and forms are by the nature of their materiality finite.  The obscure mysterious darkness shakes our core with fear and awe as we are made aware of the Omniscient One.  How do we make the connection or journey from the prison like reality of the demonic to the world of G-d's light and redemption?  In the depths of our collective and personal suffering and degradation comes a humility that restores dignity and ennobles the soul.  We experience that G-d in His mercy has implanted in human nature faith at the precipice.  Just as the darkest hour precedes the dawn so too are these dark works graced by a hovering allusion to personal salvation through eternal redemption.  The spirit of tikkun, spiritual repair, is implicit even in the works that preceded the series of that name.

As surely as night turns into day, we sense a spiritual cycle and rhythm where the hidden precedes the revealed, exile precedes redemption.  The wait and the weight seem interminable and insufferable but, thank G-d, in the pitchness of the black a ray of light penetrates, revealing sparks of the Infinite light where G-d's mercy intersects with human understanding.

Need I apologize for being a devotee of Avraham Menses's work?  I don't reject his dark visions; he did not create the horrors that have marred human existence, nor does he negate the beauty and spiritual revelations of this world.  After all, in his insistent portrayal of the moral plane and spiritual dimensions of reality we are allowed to confront the deepest mysteries and possibilities, portrayed with great reverence like a visual prayer.

Rivka Malchi is an art consultant and interior designer living in Jerusalem.



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