David Fisher

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David Fisher
David Fisher
Israeli papercut artist reviving a traditional Jewish artform and memorializing the wooden synagogues of Poland.

David Fisher is an auto-didactic Israeli papercut artist who uses this traditional Jewish art form to recreate the destroyed wooden synagogues of Poland in paper with modern laser technology.


[edit] Background

David Fisher, a self-taught paper-cut artist, has taken a traditional Jewish art form that goes back to at least the Middle Ages and has helped to revive it using modern technology.

David, born in 1966, is a ‘second generation’ i.e:- the son of survivors of the Holocaust. He is acutely aware of what was lost, both physically and spiritually, and has chosen the almost lost art of Jewish papercut as a memorial to the communities of Europe.

[edit] Papercut Pictures

Apart from producing papercut pictures of traditional subjects like the Star of David, menorahs, and house blessings, David Fisher is creating a series of papercut homages to the wooden synagogues destroyed in Eastern Europe.

[edit] Traditional Papercut Art

Traditionally, papercut art was made using a sharp knife (such as shoemaker’s) to cut either paper or parchment. The design would first be drawn on paper and then the paper-cutter would skilfully cut away the unwanted parts, leaving the design. A symmetrical design can be created by folding the paper in two and cutting through both sides, from the fold, at the same time. After opening the design up, the paper-cut would often be first painted and then mounted on a contrasting background. These papercut pictures are very intricate and can include Hebrew or Yiddish blessings, prayers, or religious symbols and were used for celebration, decoration, or for ritual purposes. For example many religious homes would have a mizrach (east) - a paper-cut picture - on the eastern wall that faced Jerusalem, so that people would know which direction to face for prayer.

[edit] Laser Cutting Art

A modern laser cutting machine does the same job as a knife, but is a lot faster and can be more precise. After working out a design by hand, multiple copies of the design can be made by pre-programing the design into the machine and letting technology do all the work. This makes laser-cut paper art much more affordable. Many papercut pictures are so delicate and so intricate, especially when made with laser, that they appear as fine as lace. It is even possible to make papercut art that is actual 3D, or appears to be in three dimensions.

[edit] Destroyed Synagogues

Drawing on archive material, David Fisher makes papercut pictures of the destroyed synagogues of Poland. Fortunately before the 2nd World War, the Polish government decided to record and document in detail the intricately carved wooden synagogues that existed in the country. These buildings were of world class architectural importance, masterpieces of a genuine Jewish folk art and each was individual in style. Almost all of these synagogues were destroyed during the war and very little remains apart from photographs and people’s memories.

Since David started this work in 2005, which he does in his ‘spare time’, he has managed to make papercut pictures of eight of these lost gems. Fisher is constantly refining his work as he discovers more about a synagogue so he can make the papercut as accurate as possible. Each picture requires an immense amount of research as he not only researches the individual building’s architecture but also about the history behind it and the community it served. David’s work is extremely powerful, evoking memories in survivors, and awe of the skill involved, in others. David Fisher even keeps all the pieces of paper that are cut away from the picture, as he sees them as part of the symbolism of the loss of the past.

David Fisher has had several exhibitions of his papercut art and his work is available online.

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