Rembrandt’s inspiration for my postdigital age artwork began three decades ago when I was sitting in a small synagogue in New York listening to the chanting of the biblical portion about artists Bezalel and Oholiav building the Tabernacle. I was translating the Hebrew words into English in my mind when it struck me that the Bible’s term for “art” is malekhet makhshevet, literally “thoughtful craft.” It is a feminine term. Since I’m a male artist, I transformed it into its masculine form malakh makhshev, literally “computer angel.”
|Mel Alexenberg, Brooklyn Angel, Acrylic painting on panel, 90 x 161 cm.|
When the services ended, I immediately told my wife Miriam that I discovered that my role as a male Jewish artist is to create computer angels. “To do what?” was her response. I reminded her of an article that our son Rabbi Ron Alexenberg had sent us a week earlier when he was archivist at Rabbi Kook’s House in Jerusalem. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook was a down-to-earth mystic who served as the chief rabbi of pre-state Israel during the first half of the 20th century. When he lived in London, he enjoyed seeing the Rembrandt paintings in the National Gallery and described the light in them as the light of the first day of Creation.
|Rembrandt van Rijn, Belshazzar's Feast, 1638, National Gallery, London|
“Thoughtful Craft” is a More Fitting Postdigital Age Term than “Art”
I explore this divergence in my books: (HarperCollins) and