Jan Menses Kabbakah Art

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Jan Menses Gallery
Eliyahu Ben Zev Gallery
גלריה ייאן מנסיס
Jan Men-sees
Other Names:
Kabbalistic Art of Jan Menses
Veteran Kabbalistic Artist based in Tzfat.

Jan Menses was one of the first artists in Safed who infused his art with his studies of Kabbalah.


[edit] Background

Jan Menses was born in Holland to a family with “Marrano” --Jews forced underground by the Spanish Inquisition roots. The family’s history indicates that they were shipbuilders in the 16th century but their Jewish practices lapsed and the family did not identify Jewishly.

Jan was strongly affected by the atrocities that he witnessed during World War II. Following the war he studied art at the Rotterdam Academy of Art and produced colorful expressionistic art. After his service in the Royal Dutch Air Force he began to travel, eventually making his way to Morocco where he came under the influence of Rabbi Kadoch, a Kabbalist. Menses converted to Judaism and married Rabbi Kadoch’s daughter. They moved to Montreal where Menses began his career in Jewish and Kabbalistic art.

[edit] Montreal

First in Morocco and then in Montreal Menses began to explore Kabbalistic concepts in his artwork. He began to create pieces of art set around themes. He produced varying numbers of pieces for each theme. Menses abandoned his early expressionist style and painted pieces with stark, striking cinematographic delineations of black and white. These themes include subjects such as “Kaddish” (the Jewish prayer for the departed), “Klippot” -- a Kabbalistic concept of each individual’s outer shell which hides his inner goodness, the Holocaust and “Tikkun” -- Rectification. Menses received a blessing from the Lubavitch Rebbe for his work on his Tikkun series.

[edit] Style

Menses’s choice of colors, black and white, seems to reduce reality to the bare bones of lightness and darkness. The blackness represents disorder while the lightness connotes G-d’s holiness. Menses’s robotic forms and exact geometric shapes bring to mind a world of spiritual torment. The abstract expressionism depicted in Menses works symbolize a definite, finite and surreal world.

[edit] Inspiration

Menses sees his works as man’s search for serenity as he strives to please G-d while he waits for the Final Redemption. Many of his paintings focus on the Jewish Diaspora and the eclipse of faith. Menses strives to translate these experiences into contemporary forms as he expresses the altitude of man’s soul.

[edit] Exhibitions

Menses exhibits in his gallery which is attached to his home in the Artists Quarter of Tzfat above the Ma’ayan Haradum public square. His works hang in the Brooklyn Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Stedelijk and Rijksmuseum museums in Amsterdam and many private galleries and exhibitions.


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