Painter and muralist Archie Rand was named the next Farash Fellow for the Advancement of Jewish Humanities and Culture, sponsored by the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation.
As he begins his Rochester residency in the summer of 2020, the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery will mount an exhibition of Rand’s magnum opus called “The 613” (2001–06). This 1,700-square-foot multi-panel painting depicts responses to the 613 Biblical commandments. Images for each of the commandments are mounted as a contiguous grid; each image is rimmed by formal gold edging with the Hebrew number of the commandment.
“The 613” explores traditions of biblical interpretation and of artistic expression. Interrogation is a common strategy among the individual panels, as the images may underscore, contradict and obscure the teachings of the referenced commandments. Quoting masterworks by artists such as Paul Cézanne and Edouard Manet and enlisting imagery from Jewish comic artists, Rand interweaves visual culture and Scripture.
“The 613” also challenges commonly held distinctions between abstraction and representation. Rand undermines how people usually expect words and images to function when they are juxtaposed with each other.
Rand has an acclaimed history of pioneering Jewish visual projects, among them a commission to paint the entire interior of the B’nai Yosef synagogue in Brooklyn, 1974–77, covering 11,000 square feet of wall space.
“We are honored to have this wonderfully inventive artist join us in Rochester as the recipient of the 2020 Farash Fellowship and greatly pleased to collaborate with the Memorial Art Gallery for a display of this immersive, stunning work,” said Holli Budd, executive director of the Farash Foundation.
“Archie Rand’s fluid, highly sophisticated illustrational style belies a philosophical approach that challenges viewers to rethink preconceptions of how words and images interrelate, and what we mean when we say that a picture is worth 1,000 words,” said MAG’s Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director Jonathan P. Binstock. “MAG is thrilled to help bring ‘The 613,’ an extraordinary artistic accomplishment by any measure, to Rochester.”
Farash Fellows is a residency program bringing Jewish artists, philosophers and thinkers to Rochester. Each fellow receives a $100,000 award. In 2018, Israeli author Amos Oz served as the inaugural Farash Fellow.