Tohu vaVohu, Hebrew College

by Dr. Steven Copeland, Hebrew College

Joshua Meyer’s paintings—the products of his work—do not allow us to take our leave from them. As Rilke describes in his letters on Cezanne—art can seize and change us. The colors and textures, the marks, the strokes, and the aura of his commanding visions reflect something of the nuance and variation, alluring and questioning quality of existence.

But even more significant is Joshua’s devotionally trenchant, insistent and uncompromising giving himself over—with courageously searching honesty—to the process by which his works emerge, trail off, wander, get lost, experiment and reemerge.

This young master-artist also is a genuine intellectual—one who knows how to give the intellect a rest, but also loves what it wants to offer. Consequently, he engages fateful questions concerning the character of art and of Judaism, their possibilities, challenges and problems.

Today half of everyone and their cousins are writers and the other half are artists, but—as in every field of endeavor—there are only thirty-six, forty-nine at most, who are engaged in work of genuine value. Joshua Meyer is one of these few.”


by Dr. Sharrona Pearl of Havard University,
for the 2006 exhibit “Becoming,” held at the Joseph Slifka Center at Yale.

This is a show about movement. Each of Joshua Meyer’s paintings are constantly in motion. Layers emerge with each viewing, the past, present, and future combining in lush and sensual images that are as tactile as they are visual. Meyer paints not only in space but also in time, adding and taking away, and – courageously – placing this process on display for the viewer. These pieces are not just works of art, but archives of the history of painting and the history of spectating.

Meyer allows and, indeed, insists on the viewer’s participation in the experience of his works. Not only do his paintings change us, but we, the viewers, change them, for they are incomplete without our interaction. And they change over time, as our perspectives, our experiences, our eyes, change over time. Each piece is always in the process of change, from its blank canvas through its layers of creation and beyond, as with each viewer it becomes something new.

Entitled “Becoming,” Meyer’s raw and commanding show documents transitions, both in the subjects of the paintings and the style in which they were produced. Exploring themes such as pregnancy, childhood, and the self, Meyer’s works are themselves in a state of becoming, as he moves through different layers of paint and different phases of painting. Himself in a moment of artistic transition, Meyer embraces different sizes and different styles as a way to create a discussion through his art, asking questions about the communal experience of representation and creation.

Painting with knives rather than traditional brushes, Meyer combines the immediacy of impressionism with a breathtaking devotion to nuance and detail. Filled with surprises, each painting reveals itself in parts, creating a relationship that is only enriched and deepened over time. Meyer’s use of earth tones underscores his commitment to stripping the creative act to its barest essentials and, with each new work, relearning and starting anew. For Meyer, there is no comfortable and easy option, no default painting style or subject; every piece emerges from struggle and re-evaluation, producing arresting and original images that pulse with life. A luscious yet somehow soothing visual feast, Meyer’s works engage the viewers, even as the viewers engage the works – together creating, building, and, ultimately and always, becoming.


© 2010 bill lowe gallery  |  site by visualiti