|Judith by A. Gassel|
Judith portrays a daring and beautiful widow who trusts God completely. She
is used by Him to deliver Israel from the Assyrians during the time of
Nebuchadnezzar. The book of Judith is part of Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Bibles but not Jewish or Protestant ones due to historical inaccuracies. She fearlessly beheads their enemy, whose head in this depiction is
discreetly held within the red bag.
This painting is on exhibit at North River Gallery, 334 Old Oak Street, Pembroke MA along with 17 other images by Mr. Gassel. Who is this artist who paints in the Medieval tradition?
Alexander Gassel lives in Massachusetts. He came from Russia
to live in the United States 32 years ago. Trained in Europe in art, history of
art, iconography, and graphics, he then traveled all over Russia restoring and
conserving icons in churches throughout the country. He is employed now as
resident conservator at the Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton, MA, and maintains
his studio at the Fenway Studios building in Boston. He grew up in the city of
Moscow and spent summers with his family in the bucolic Russian countryside.His favorite period in art history and the one he draws
inspiration from is early European Medieval style which includes Eastern Icons
to the early Renaissance. He uses egg tempura paint, the same paint of the
medieval masters, as well as oil on linen.
The modern Russian painters Chagall,
Kandinsky, Malevich and others used the same principles of composition that was
employed in icon painting. Playing with sharp triangles, contrast of color,
texture, and shape and ignoring perspectives of naturalism in favor of storytelling. The symbolic communication supersedes the
importance of ‘painting it as it is seen’. In the medieval mind symbol matters
more than the world around us. The spiritual, the dream, the heavenly meaning
is valued over the physical, the circumstance, the visible natural world.