Jacob El Hanani (Israeli, born Morocco, 1947)
Ink on canvas
50 x 50 in. (127 x 127 cm)
Gift of Syril and Leonard Rubin, 1983 (1983.199)
Jacob El Hanani was born in Casablanca, Morocco, in 1947 and grew up in Israel. His work draws upon the tradition of micrography in Judaism, a technique utilized in decoration and transcribing holy texts. El Hanani creates highly intricate works through the painstaking repetition of minuscule marks, often Hebrew letters repeated thousands of times using ink on paper or canvas. The repetition represents a prayer, or Tehilim. Tehilim refers to a collection of 150 Psalms that express thanks, beseech, praise, love, and fear, for God. He draws these images without magnification; in order to reduce eye strain, he rests every ten minutes. The end result is a work of extraordinary detail that appears to be a pattern from a distance, and speaks of the passage of time and the link between the microscopic and the infinite.