Multi-media visual artist Hanan Harchol mines personal family dynamics to illuminate the relevance of Jewish wisdom in contemporary life. Conversations between the artist and his parents, depicted in animated videos and powerful, expressionist drawings, animated stills, and tapestries, offer unexpected perspectives on the themes of Envy, Repentance, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Love and Fear, Humility, and Faith. Humorous and initially touching family interactions gradually reveal a deeper study of the human condition.
The starkly drawn images, limited in physical action and set in an unchanging, compressed background setting, reflect the artist’s influence by the early 20th-century German expressionist masters who eschewed naturalism to convey a deeper articulation of emotional and psychological experience. Distraction is banished by the deliberate absence of color and extraneous detail, focusing the viewer’s attention on the verbal exchanges. Harchol’s choice of the animation medium, as in the work of William Kentridge, provides a riveting, experiential integration of subject, style, and format that conveys the artist’s ultimate message.
Harchol places Judaism at the center of his art, not by illustrating ancient biblical and Talmudic stories, but by finding Jewish teachings in ancient texts that he then applies to everyday life. Harchol is at pains to make the conversations non-judgmental. These animations exert an ecumenical outreach and are intellectually and spiritually available to all.
Harchol’s works offer a uniquely accessible yet rich exploration of centuries of Jewish wisdom, which can be put to practical use and universally appreciated. Hanan Harchol seeks to help repair the world by sharing insights that can enhance the fulfillment and meaning of our own lives.
The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalog/commentary, with DVD of the artist’s animations, featuring essays by Rabbi David Ellenson, Eli Evans, Harlene Appelman, Hanan Harchol, Laura Kruger, Matthew Baigell, Maoz Kahana, Tali Kahana, Rabbi Leon Morris, and Joe Septimus, and study guides to the animations by Rabbi Leora Kaye.
Jewish Food For Thought: The Animated Series was created with generous funding by The Covenant Foundation, with fiscal sponsorship by The Foundation for Jewish Culture. This exhibition and catalogue/commentary were produced with the generous support of The Covenant Foundation. This exhibition is presented by the Irma L. and Abram S. Croll Center for Jewish Learning and Culture, with the support of George, z’l, and Mildred Weissman.
All animations, paintings, and drawings, including all photographs and visual representations in this catalogue, are copyrighted by Hanan Harchol. All Rights Reserved. © 2013. This catalogue and commentary were produced with the generous support of The Covenant Foundation. www.JewishFoodForThought.com. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers. ISBN: 1-884300-50-2. Printed in the United States of America in 2013 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Brookdale Center, One West Fourth Street New York, NY 10012-1186
In the Media: Sandee Brawarsky, author and culture editor of The Jewish Week, interviewed Hanan Harchol as part of the Global Day of Jewish Learning's 24x24, 2013. Watch >
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