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April 09, 1992 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-04-09

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April 9, 1992 Page 1

The Michigan Daily -Weekend etc.

April 9,1992

Page 1

Central panels from the septych Under the Wing of God and the Shadow of Amalek contain countless symbols, including six Holocaust headstones and a Roman/Nazi eagle icon.

.. _ __ r

so many different nationalities as-
similated and became Americans;
Irish, French, Greek, Italian and
many others managed to blend in
even while constituting American
society with their distinctive cul-
tural elements.
In 1992, people of color are
being castigated for practicing our
respective cultures, as America
somewhat hypocritically encour-
aged us to. White cultural suprema-
cists witch-hunt "Afrocentricity"
to no end, 12 years after Molefi
Kefe Asante coined the term.
In 1983, Chinese-American au-
thor Frank Chin and a number of
writers and editors published
AIIIEEEEEE!, a statement of
Asian-American culture as nurtur-
ing identity. As the anthology's
introduction tells us, "On the sim-
plest level, a man in any culture
speaks for himself."
Andif this developmentof such
less-than-civilized cultures here in
America isn't intimidating enough,
another school of Afrocentric schol-
ars has proven that the birthplace of
humanity is quite logically the birth-
place of civilization.
We see now, due to the work of
scholars like Cheikh AntaDiop and
Molefi Kefe Asante that as Ivan
Van Sertima says, "The great Eu-
ropeans came to Africa to be edu-
cated. Thales, Democritus,
Pythagoras, Euxodus, Anaximenes,
Anaximander- all of thesepeople
came and sat at the foot of the
Africans and they said so" (italics
mine).
And this is the most threatening
element in the revelatory campaign
of multiculturalism.
It's necessary to expand white
supremacy in knowledge of self by
teaching Black children that our
ancestors made no contribution to
this thing called "civilization" and
that we owe everything to a bunch
of Greek degenerates.
If today's overprotection is nec-
essary to preserve Western think-
ing in the face of multiculturalism,
it seems that this tenet will most
likely be annihilated with time.
I've always believed the truth
needs no defending.
Writer and philosopher Jean-
Paul Sartre describes the reaction-
ary death knell quite eloquently in
his preface to Frantz Fanon's
Wretched of the Earth:
"Today, the native populations
reveal their true nature, and at the

speakwithcolors andmy brush.
SI'm not a speaker," claims art
ist Dubi Arie at the beginning
of a phone interview. After
more than 23 years of work, Dubi has
made quite a colorful speech with his
recently completed, monumental
painting - what he calls his "Mis-
sion"-titled Under the Wing of God
and the Shadow ofAmalek. The com-
plex, seven-paneled panoramic oil
painting encompasses the entire his-
tory of the Jewish people while carry-
ing a message for all.
The painting's conceptstruckDubi
when he was 28 and serving as an
Israeli paratrooper in the Six Day
War. Dubi felt overwhelmed by the
return of the sacred Western Wall to
Israel's hands. This central moment
urged Dubi to attempt a momentous
creation, an expression through which
he searched for meaning within his
Jewish identity.
At the core of the detailed work
lies a deep, universal message - to
end the hate and aggression of wars
between nations and peoples.
"A human being can relate to the
suffering. The history of Jews doesn't
just belong to Jewish people. It's his-
tory period. It is based on story of
Bible and love of God," says Simon
Schreiber, a close friend of the artist.
Universal epic works are appreci-
ated worldwide such as
Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Ceil-
ing, Marc Chagall's Jerusalem Win-
dows, Goya's Disasters of War and
Picasso's Guernica. Like Picasso and
Goya, Dubi has interpreted life's
atrocities to create art.
"Demonic action always happens,"
says Dubi, a Holocaust survivor who
not only fought in the Six Day War,
but also in the Suez canal in the '70s
and the bloody Yom Kippur War of
1973. "These experiences build some
waves inside of you ... they create
energy," explains Dubi.
Amalek, the hereditary enemy of
the Jews, was the first nation that tried
to destroy Israel and has become syn-
onymous in Jewish belief with every
dark force. Amalek has appeared in
different forms from wilderness times
to the early monarchies, from the
Spanish Inquisition to Hitler.
Throughout Under the Wing of God
and the Shadow ofAmalek, Amalek is
represented by a mysterious, dark
shadow, while God's light remains a
fascinating hope.

sections, "Birth of A Nation," pre-
sents the forefathers up through their
enslavement in Egypt, where they
meet Amalek for the first time. "The
Struggle of Israel" vividly shows the
battles, exiles and massacres the Jew-
ish people have faced through time.
The central panels display the First
and Second Temples rising in flames
of hatred, the Babylonian exile, the
Diaspora, the persecution of the
Middle Ages and
the czarist purges.
"From Destruc-
tion to Redemp-
tion" shows
Amalek's spirit in
a different form -
the Holocaust,
where a third of the
Jewish people per-
ished. Six large
gravestones stand
for six million.
Each stone also
represents a "mile-
stone" in the life of
the Jewish people,
with an extra stone
for Masada and the
beginning of the
Zionistmovement.
A mushroom
cloud depicts nuc-
lear war, express-
ing a warning, that
the next holocaust
might focus on A
more than Jews,
homosexuals, gyp-TH
sies and ethnic mi-
norities; itmightbe B
directed at all.
"This (section) is to learn lessons
from the past so that all mankind will
prepare for the next disaster. We cre-
ate self-destruction," Dubi says. "The
painting is for the younger generation
to avoid catastrophes ... If we are
aware of the deceit of evil then we can
see evil in war."
From the fourth to fifth panel, the
ominous blood-red flowers of the
Holocaust change to a verdant bright
green as the Jewish people find their
home in Israel. The painting's scenes
moves optimistically forward to the
arising of a Jewish nation which is
united with all nations, bringing forth
the hopes guided by one God who will
cast off the shadow of Amalek's
nuclear disguise.
Dubi's composition is carefully
built on a series of violet, yellow and

rolls through each scene. Dubi ex-
plains, "There are shapes behind
shapes. The combination builds struc-
ture behind each shape and line."
These waves of colors and shapes
give the painting an overall feeling of
continuing motion, like history itself.
Dubi believes catastrophes hap-
pen for a reason, and that many of
these significant events could be pre-
dicted through multi-leveled symbols

pendence with the newly formed state.
Dubi developed his artistic skills
in the collective environment of Kib-
butz Sharr-Hogolan in the Jordan Val-
ley, where he moved after his mother
died. He admits he was a bit naive
when he left the Kibbutz to start his
own life outside of the established
community he called home. "I left
paradise. The Kibbutz had everything
I needed. I left my home with two kids
and a wife with-
out money. I
struggled finan-
cially and with the
hFiO N research (for the
Mission)."
Dubi felt since
he survived
through all of
these horrors his
life had some
greater purpose,
which was to cre-
ate his Mission.
After studying
art for five years
in Tel Aviv, Dubi
moved to Toronto
in 1974 in order to
devote himself to
this artistic chal-
lenge. By tempo-
rarily moving
away from Israel,
he was able to see
his subject more
objectively.
While the 22
G LE years working on
the Mission have
been well spent,
they haven't been
without struggle. Dubi studied myriad
subjects including history, philoso-
phy and Torah. He also took classes
and interviewed survivors. With over
5000 years of history from which to
choose, Dubi says, "You ask yourself
questions, how will you do it? How
you will create the artistic composi-
tion."
Sixteen years were spent prepar-
ing for the work and seven years were
spentactually painting. Much research
and approximately 10,000 sketches
later, Dubi has followed his own phi-
losophy: "With will power you can
overcome difficulties and can achieve
dreams."
Dubi rattles off Chagall, Picasso,
Da Vinci and Michaelangelo as his
influences. He explains, however, that
he is also continually influenced by

personality, you make your own char-
acter, from your experiences."
The painting has been appraised for
millions of dollars, but Dubi turns
down proposals because he'd like to
donate the painting for educational
purposes, as a vehicle for greater un-
derstanding between people.
Off the canvas, "A mission in life"
"While standing in front of paint-
ing you become mesmerized by the
message and symbolism, but also by
the artistic value," says Schreiber.
The 38'5" by 7' painting teaches
one large story through a composition
of shorter stories. Dubi speaks of the
"many subjects behind the subject."
He explains, "If someone believes
they can overcome. We have to be
tied to goals." This applies to himself
as an artist, the Jewish people, and the
world as a whole.
Dubi encourages "the new gen-
eration to look at the painting, not to
see if it is nice or not nice ... but to be
aware of the existence of the Mission.
Do something - a positive step can
change the world. Each person can
have a mission in life."
Dubi sees his "Renaissance style"
painting as an educational event -
"like music that everyone can enjoy.
If you enjoy music, then you ask about
it. Like music, you first enjoy the
colors, then you ask the meaning be-
hind (the painting)," says Dubi. "I
want people to ask, 'What is the paint-
ing? What can we do to be a better
world, not only for Jews, but every-
one?''I can only hope people spend
more than a minute looking at the
painting."
Not only arethe images haunt-
ingly beautiful, but they also build
upon one another, weaving together
the complex strife of humankind.
Under the Wing of God and the
Shadow ofAmalek records the history
of the Jews, and also the beginnings
of Christianity and Islam, for it was
through the seed of Abraham that
Christianity and Islam were born.
.Since the amount of information
in the painting is so encompassing, at
present Dubi is working on art to
support his Mission in the form of
educational books, prints, lithographs
and videos.

and numerology. Numerology is the
numerical value given to Hebrew let-
ters (with Aleph equaling one and Bet
equaling two). There is a symbolism
through addition of the values. Dubi
includes various numbers and words
in his painting to offer more of the
history of the Jews.
Portrait of a survivor
Dubi's own life has echoed the
struggle of the Jewish people. The
Warsaw-born artist was only four
weeks old when his mother fled with
her children to Russia, just ahead of
the German army. After surviving the
horrors of the war, they returned to
Warsaw only to find their family,
friends and home destroyed by the
Nazis.
His family suffered three more

THE MISSION: UNDER THE WING
OF GOD AND THE SHADOW OF
AMALEK opens May 7 at the Janice
Charach Epstein Museum/Gallery in

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