Two Man Holding a Menora by Moshe Castel
About the Artist:
Moshe Castel was born in 1909 in Jerusalem. Moshe grew up in the Bukharim neighborhood, where he attended his father's school. At the age of 13, he was accepted to the Bezalel Art School, directed by Boris Schatz, where he studied from 1921-1925. His teacher, Shmuel Ben-David, encouraged him to study art in Paris.
Castel arrived in Paris in 1927, where he attended Academie Julien and Ecole du Louvre. He sat in the Louvre copying the works of Rembrandt, Velasquez, Delacroix, and Courbet, intrigued by their paint-layering techniques. It was here that he began to realize that "art is not symbolic, but rather material, the material is the main thing, the way the paint is placed, the way the layers are placed on the picture, this is the most essential thing."
In Paris he used the backdrop of the street scenes for his subject matter and exhibited his paintings in the salons of Paris. In May 1927, the World Union of Hebrew Youth in Paris sponsored his first exhibit. Ze'ev Jabotinsky, who was in Paris at the time, wrote an introduction for the catalogue.
After 13 years of work in Paris, he returned to Israel in 1940 and settled in Safed.
He became famous for his work using basalt found in the black rock, which is indigenous to several areas of Israel. Many of his paintings are characterized by his creation of what appears to be an ancient form of writing. These symbols are painted in relief utilizing the black rock material. His portraits and street scenes often possess a Spanish influence, probably based on his Castilian Sephardic heritage. The strong reds, greens and blacks are indicative of this phase of his paintings.