Mark Podwal: Jewish Magic

New York, NY August 14, 2008 – Superstitions, ritual, mythology, angels and magic have long had a place in religious traditions and writings. In Judaism, these elements have been used to emphasize the Powers of Good; thus, “Jewish Magic.”

Throughout his career, artist Mark Podwal has been fascinated by Jewish folk beliefs. His current exhibition at Forum Gallery, Jewish Magic, brings many of them to life in 30 recent works on paper, including ink drawings and gouache acrylics. In blazing color we are witness to Elijah’s Transformation into the Angel Metatron, and introduced to the Frog who Taught Rabbi Hanina the Whole Torah. For each astonishing tale, the artist has provided a brief description to help contextualize the artwork.

Podwal’s film House of Life: The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague, will run during the course of the exhibition. Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Allan Miller (From Mao to Mozart) directed the film. Mark Podwal was the executive producer and writer. The film was featured at the 2008 New York Jewish Film Festival at Lincoln Center, and is a portrait of Prague’s sacred burial ground, described as the “Westminster Abbey of the Jewish people.” Crowded with twelve layers of graves, the cemetery is the source of countless legends, including Rabbi Loew’s golem. Channel Thirteen and National PBS have scheduled the film for broadcast in April 2009 as part of their primetime programming to commemorate the Holocaust Days of Remembrance.

Many of Podwal’s award-winning drawings have been featured in The New York Times. The artist has worked extensively with author Elie Wiesel, with whom he published several books and collaborated on the PBS television special A Passover Seder Presented by Elie Wiesel. Podwal has illustrated eleven children’s books of his own, including Jerusalem Sky and Golem: A Giant Made of Mud. He has illustrated for numerous authors including Harold Bloom, Francine Prose, and Francine Klagsbrun.

Mark Podwal’s work is collected internationally and included in museum collections worldwide, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; The Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; The Jewish Museum, New York; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; The Library of Congress, Washington, DC; The Museum of the City of New York; and The National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic.

Opening reception with the artist on Thursday, September 4th, 2008 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, at 745 Fifth Avenue at 57th Street, 5th Floor. The exhibition continues through September 27th. Gallery hours are 10 to 5:30 pm Tuesday through Saturday. Please contact the gallery for further information.

Location: New York 5th Floor