In Chaim Potok’s novel My Name is Asher Lev, the book’s artist protagonist puts himself at odds with his orthodox Jewish community when he uses crucifixion images to express the idea of extreme suffering.
Marc Chagall, a real life Jewish artist used crucifixion images in some of his art work. I have a copy of one (White Crucifixion) on my studio wall among my inspiring art works. And another of my favourite artists, Samuel Bak also makes allusions to crucifixion in his work, in particular with his repeated image of a Jewish boy with his hands raised in surrender.
It is probably these influences that have inspired me to use Jewish imagery in some of my paintings – particularly relating to the holocaust. I want to express both Jesus’ Jewishness and His suffering As a Jew.
Holocaust imagery could be seen by some as something that should only be addressed by Jews, so as a gentile I might be seen as treading into forbidden territory. Maybe some will find this imagery offensive, but that is not my intention.
As well as the suffering of Jesus mentioned above, another thing I’m trying is to address with this imagery is the lie of the “Christ killer” accusations directed at Jews throughout history. In my paintings I’m trying to portray Jesus as the Jew that He is, and show He was not some gentile god murdered by Jews.
Jesus gave His life freely on behalf of all of mankind, Jew as well as gentile. And most importantly He was raised back to life, the first part of a new creation into which we can all enter through faith in Him