Eight Approaches

Now on view!  A four-panel excerpt from the work in progress is currently included in the exhibit “Remember, Renew, Reimagine: Hebrew College Centennial Exhibition,” curated by Deborah Feinstein from April 3-June 14, 2022

Eight Approaches

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: time and light. Light is about seeing and trying 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.

Chanukah is the convergence of these two themes, 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. 

“Eight Approaches,” details. Oil on board

About Joshua Meyer

Artist Joshua Meyer is known for his thickly layered paintings of people, and for a searching, open-ended process.  Read more >


CJP Arts and Culture Impact Grant

CJP awarded a round of grants to support Greater Boston creatives for projects that will include dance, documentary film, visual arts, and original music. The new round of grants, totaling $67,500 for nine artists and their teams, comes just six months after CJP invested $100,000 in 11 local artists. Read more >


AJS Perspectives: The Art Issue

“Artists on their art” feature.  Read more >PDF>


My Guston

Philip Guston has been hanging around my studio, egging me on. So I did the only thing I could, I painted him out. I am working on a sprawling, eight-panel painting about multiple competing truths, and now the third panel has become my Guston. Read more >


A Few Thoughts About Time

Time is about how we change—questioning whether art can hold multiple, competing truths

On an Aging Rembrandt
Rembrandt’s self-portraits are fascinating because of the way they mark the passage of time. We not only see the way his body and face age, but also the way his painterliness changes from year to year. We see him change inside and out simultaneously.

Yehuda Amichai
Once I said, Death is God and change is His prophet.
Now I have calmed down, and I say:
Change is God and death is His prophet.
—Yehuda Amichai, Open, closed, open

Franz Kafka
“We Jews are not painters. We cannot depict things statically. We see them always in transition, in movement, as change. We are story-tellers.”
—Franz Kafka