December 15, 2022
“Eight Approaches” is debuting in full at the MFA Boston! The paintings will be featured on the 15th as part of the Museum’s Chanukah celebration with JArts and CJP. (The event is included with general admission, only $5, free for members). If you read my recent essay “My Guston” you probably already have a sense of what a powerful juxtaposition it will be for my work to be hanging in the same museum just after Guston’s exhibit. I am thrilled to put these paintings in dialogue with the community and with the artists of the MFA.
A Painting in eight moments, by Joshua Meyer
Oil on board, 40 x 100 inches, 2022
“Eight Approaches” is a sequence of eight paintings, hung in a row, but it is really about the spaces in-between the paintings. Consequently, it is about the spaces in-between people and ideas. First I’ll digress, then I’ll try to explain.
My paintings have been circling two themes: light and time. Light is how we see and try to understand. Time is about how we change—questioning whether art can hold multiple, competing truths. I paint people over time by layering thick paint. Each daub holds a memory, and when they overlap, you can see time elapse.
These two themes converge in Chanukah, marking the passing of time with light. The eight paintings look a bit like side-by-side triptych paintings, narrative comic-book panels or film stills, and of course the eight-armed chanukiah. The paintings will almost coalesce into a narrative.
While my themes are universal, seeing them through the prism of Jewish thought will add richness and depth. Context is crucial to this work. “Eight Approaches” begins by using the teachings, rituals and traditions of Chanukah as a lens to think about art and ourselves. The goal, really, is to explore these cross-pollinating ideas, opening up a dialogue. Ideally this giant, almost-but-not-quite chanukiah will open up a dialogue about the diversity and complexity of Jewish identity, community, and tradition.
I hope to engage viewers in a complicated, Rashomon-like story with eight different approaches, veering into abstraction. Art has an ability to hold competing truths, and Judaism loves this complexity too. We love to answer a question with a parable—from Chassidic Tales to Kafka and Midrash—so we can enter and engage. I hope viewers can tell their own stories about it and consider how and why the eight slices are juxtaposed. I hope the paintings will cause the audience to add their own stories, weaving and sorting the coincidences and contradictions.
Artist Joshua Meyer is known for his thickly-layered paintings of people, and for a searching, open-ended process. “These aren’t so much portraits as they are depictions of intimacy,” suggests the Boston Globe. Meyer has been recognized with a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, a CJP Arts and Culture Impact Award, The Sustainable Arts Foundation Award, as well as the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Painting Fellowship. The Cambridge, Massachusetts artist studied art at Yale University and The Bezalel Academy, and has exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, including Eight Approaches at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Tohu vaVohu at Hebrew College, and Becoming at the Yale Slifka Center and NYU Bronfman Center and the retrospective Seek My Face at UCLA’s Dortort Center. Meyer is represented by Rice Polak Gallery in Provincetown, and Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco. Read more >