Parshat Pekudei by Davi Cheng

Fine art Archival Print on 256 gsm Paper, museum quality.
Limited Edition of 250 (נר) each. Size - 70X50 cm
Price includes international shipping

Clouds (雲)
The Four Great Classical Books (四大名著 ) in Chinese literature are highly regarded pre-modern Chinese novels - one of them, Journey to the West (西遊記) was published in 1592 during the Ming Dynasty. It is a Chinese adventure tale filled with spiritual insight towards individual enlightenment..
As I grew up in Hong Kong, Sūnwùkōng (孫悟空) was my superhero; with his magical transformations and immense amount of strength and skills, nothing could stop him. But what fascinated me the most was his ability to “ride” or “walk” the clouds. In one somersault, he’d be standing on a cloud traveling thousands of miles in seconds and return in a flash. The deities or divine beings in Chinese folktales quite often travel by clouds--curly patterned clouds like the ones depicted in my drawing.

Parshat Pekudei is filled with images and details of art objects which God commanded the Children of Israel to make. In this Torah portion, Moses, like a curator of a brand new gallery, makes his last inspections before the grand opening for the Holy One. He orders the accounting of the materials, wanting to know how much gold, silver and copper were given by the people for the making of the Mishkan (the God’s dwelling place in the desert). Moses wants to make sure everything was created to specifications: he checks the priestly garments with bells and pomegranates all around, the breastplate with gemstones, the blue, purple, crimson wool with gold thread in twisted fine linen, and the hammered works, the menorah, the Ark, the hangings and screen for the Mishkan. Moses carefully sets everything up accordingly, and when he finishes, “A cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of God filled the Mishkan” [Pekudei 40:34]. In fact, as described in the Torah, Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because it was so filled with the glory of God.
In both of these stories, the clouds and what they represent were my inspiration for this piece. In contrast to the ornate, colorfully decorated ritual objects and the intricacy of the Mishkan, clouds are simple but complex. I wanted to capture the simplicity by using black Chinese ink and single strokes of the bamboo brushes, yet these clouds are in a complex formation of patterns and shapes. Clouds themselves have no colors but they do reflect whatever lights and surrounding colors are nearby. Thus, the reflection of the colors described in the Torah — blue, purple, crimson and gold — can be seen on these clouds, painted with blue and crimson water colors and a hint of shimmering gold acrylic ink. For me the clouds filling the Mishkan in Parshat Pekudei represent the ruach, the spirit of God, as well as the ruach, the spirit, of the artists and the people Israel whose hearts moved them to give all they had to create a dwelling place for God.

[Pekudei 40:34 -This verse is written in Chinese texts in the art piece]

Reflections on Being a Jewish Woman Artist
“Are you really Jewish?” I am asked that over and over again by Jews and non-Jews alike.
I was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to the United States with my family when I was fourteen. I am blessed with memories of Chinese culture, ancient legends, stories of dragons, divine beings, and the Monkey King. Later I embarked on a journey toward Judaism, and today both my childhood memories and my adventurous Jewish journey continue to fuel my creativity as an artist. My busy life revolves around the Jewish calendar. I play trumpet in a klezmer band, have served as president of my synagogue, and am involved with numerous other Jewish non-profits organizations. Every week for the last eighteen years I have studied Jewish texts with joy. I love Torah and Midrash: Quite often, the pages and stories come alive to me in pictures that take hold in my imagination. When I learned of this “Women of the Book” project, my heart skipped a beat with excitement.
Judaism opens my heart and mind. Jewish values guide my actions and my intentions. Being Jewish emboldens me to be me. I may not “look” Jewish, but no one ever questions whether my art — stained glass windows and a Ner Tamid integrated into the design of our new synagogue — is Jewish.
I am Jewish, I am also Chinese. And when I create art, the many pieces of me — the Jew, the Chinese, the lesbian — come together and become one.

Hong Kong-born, Los Angeles-based Davi Cheng is an artist, musician / singer and past president of the world's original GLBT synagogue, Beth Chayim Chadashim (BCC), for which she designed and fabricated the stained-glass windows, ner tamid, and ark doors. Her art integrates Jewish themes in traditional Chinese aesthetic.


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Category: Print

Type: Women of the Book



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