Gabriel working flower

“Why letters?” A calligrapher’s artist statement.

We’re Jewish. Letters are important to us. For the last 2000 years, every Jew learned how to read when they were three. Hebrew letters are all around us from day one, no matter where we grow up. In Jewish mysticism, letters are considered to be kind of the atoms of creation. It is said that if one letter should disappear from the alphabeth, the world would collapse. We are עם הספר, “the people of the book”. And so even though most Jews don’t speak Hebrew, almost all of them read it. Them, and their parents, and their parents’ parents. And so on until the times of the first temple.

So what would make more sense than letting letters express Jewish identity?

In a way, Hebrew Tattoos is one huge ongoing art project, with thousands of participants, canvases and locations. 


Of course, given the painful lack of a tradition of creative Hebrew calligraphy, I had to borrow from all over the place. A big influence was Islamic calligraphy. That glorious and rich history, a creative outburst limited, and thus sparked, by our common biblical prohibition on creating images, has been inspiring me since I first held a nib in my hand. Older masters like Mohammad Hosni or Hamid Aytaç, as well as contemporary calligraphers such as El Seed and Eduard Dimasov continuously influence my work. 


Another important influence is the European tradition of Latin letter calligraphy. Living in a Spanish and German speaking environment, I’m drinking from the contemporary genius of artists like Brody Neuenschwander and Cláudio Gil.


Most importantly, though, growing up in Jerusalem, I had the priviledge to have almost unlimited access to the vast amount of Hebrew documents, perserved in the various archives in the city. I spent years, obessively copying Hebrew letters from Kethuboth, scrolls, letters and other documents, written over the last 2000 years. This practice gave me a solid understanding of the ever changing character of Hebrew letters. This understanding is the base for everything you see here.