Count Your Blessings  14 February until 24 May 2010

Work by Eliyahu Sidi

Eliyahu SidiThis spring, the Jewish Historical Museum will present the family exhibition Count Your Blessings: Work by Eliyahu Sidi. The artist Eliyahu Sidi, a resident of Israel, has created imaginative pictures of Hebrew letters, blessings, the tale of the exodus from Egypt, the Song of Solomon, and the Scroll of Esther. By incorporating text into his narrative paintings and illustrations, he continues a long tradition among Jewish painters in Jerusalem and Safed, with its roots in the late nineteenth century.

In his paintings, Sidi (born in Paris in 1936) uses an abundance of bright colours and flat planes, with no place for perspective. His colourful works, full of humorous details from everyday life, draw viewers into a world of Hebrew letters, of Jewish poems, proverbs, and stories seen through childlike eyes. At the same time, his drawings express profound insight into and knowledge of classical Jewish writings. In one beautifully painted Hebrew alphabet, pirates, camels, and a dentist bring the letters to life. In the powerfully erotic Song of Solomon, the loved one becomes an apple tree, honey runs from the hills, and the vineyards are menaced by jackals. The stories and other texts in Count Your Blessings are in Hebrew with Dutch translations.

Sidi owned a herd of goats and a dairy business before devoting himself to art, and animals often appear in his work. In one Rosh Hashanah drawing, for instance, a goat with one horn stands opposite a man who is using the other horn as a shofar. Another recurring animal theme is a black cat. At the exhibition, children can follow the cat's trail from one picture to the next , and there will be drawing and art appreciation assignments available for them.

Along with the exhibition in the JHM Print Room, Eliyahu Sidi's work will be on display in the mikveh, the Great Synagogue, and the JHM Children's Museum. Sidi's recent exhibition venues include Beit Avi Chai (Jerusalem), Museum of Art Ein Harod (Ein Harod), and the Jewish Cultural Center (JCC) in New York.

During the period of the exhibition, the JHM will hold a number of events focusing on Jewish holidays, including a large, full-day Purim festival on Sunday 28 February.

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