Fractured Epics - History Painting and Imaginary Portraits by Joel Silverstein

December 12, 2012- January 27, 2013.

Presented by:
The Columbia / Barnard Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life

606 West 115th Street, New York, NY, 10025

and The Jewish Art Salon.
6:00-8:30 PM 

Opening Reception: Wednesday, Dec. 12th. 

7:30-8:15 PM 
Roundtable Discussion,  Jewish Narrative Painting 
with members of The Jewish Art Salon:

Joel Silverstein, Exhibition Artist, Senior Curator/Founding Member

Elke Reva Sudin, Artist, Exec. Director of Jewish Art Now, Executive Member.

Yona Verwer, Artist, President/Co-founder.

Eden Morris, Artist, Member.

Moderated by Richard McBee, Artist/Critic, the Jewish Press,

Founding Member.

Exhibit curated by Yona Verwer, Kraft Center Curator-in-Residence, 2012-13. 

Jacob at Thirteen - Rites of Passage

The Exhibition Fractured Epics proposes a world of botched promise but ultimate redemption, as the artist recalls his life growing up in Brooklyn, NY near Coney Island. In over 30 narrative works, Silverstein addresses central themes of autobiography, memory, visual ephemera and the Book of Exodus as related in the Hebrew Bible. Collage and acrylics are mixed with great skill in works ranging from one to fourteen feet in length.

Employing a figurative expressionist and Magic Realist vocabulary, the artist invokes the concept of “History Painting,” the one time summit of French Academic painting as well as the mid- Twentieth Century Hollywood movie Epic. He accomplishes this relying on compositions assembled from nature, snapshots, old National Geographic photos, action figures, comics and collage. Here, myth and the imagination merge in creating unsettling images of loss and transformation. 

I saw the Miracle of the Snakes

The exhibition culminates in a 10 foot mural entitled, Brighton Beach Exodus2007 channeling the large narrative works of Camille Corot, Greco-Roman Fayum Painting and  movie stills from De Mille’s, The Ten Commandments, 1956.

Brighton Beach Exodus

Another portion of the artist’s oeuvre is comprised of portraits. These are straightforward depictions of the artist’s friends and family as well as “made-up” or imagined historical fantasies of people who lived before current modes of artistic representation and photography. The artist blends “high and low” styles of art to evoke the miraculous, a state beyond the provable realms of truth or fantasy. Employing lush brushwork, high key color, and graphic iconography, Silverstein delivers the “hot” effects of traditional expressionism while embodying strong doses of postmodern narrative, irony and disjuncture. Fractured Epics suggests the longing for greatness and narrative inevitability in an age when grand narratives have been questioned, yet the desire for spiritual or metaphysical content remains.

Pardes - For my Father

US 2012

Villa of the Mysteries


High Priest

Mr. Silverstein is an artist/teacher and art writer. He has exhibited in many universities and galleries and has written over 60 articles, art reviews and catalogues for various publications. He is also a founding Member and Senior Curator of the Jewish Art Salon, an organization comprised of over 800 art professionals on four continents. 

A notable figure in the contemporary Jewish Art scene, Silverstein has Co-Curated four exhibitions which culminated in The Dura Europos Project for the Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art and the UJA Federation, NY. The Dura Project was chosen by CAJM, the Council of American Jewish Museums for their annual conference in February, 2011. The catalogue for Fractured Epics is currently available, with an interview by Richard McBee.

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