abraham project,  art,  contemporary art,  Israel Museum,  modern art,  tel aviv,  toby cohen


By Adam B. Schonbrun

A visit to the Engel Gallery on 26 Gordon Street , Tel Aviv, Israel (Telephone: 972-3-5225637) is imperative.
Toby Cohen is a gifted, I think brilliant, photographer who hails from London and is a permanent resident in Israel. He has brought out of the desert of our daily lives, something inspired, an intuitive aesthetic wide-lens portrayal of the Genesis narrative of Abraham and the Angels. The show is filled with Midrashic insights & the eternal beauty of the Negev Wilderness.  
Cohen says to this interviewer that it took him months to find the right tree in the right setting as he four-wheeled around in the intense heat. The day of the shoot, he recalls, we ran out of water. His Abraham lies in the photograph (which is huge) recovering from his circumcision. He sees the angels approaching. In his tent he goes and washes their angelic feet. On the right side of the photo a lovely form of Sarah laughs. The angels have just told Sarah that she will have a child, thus the name Yitzchak. Off to the left is a lonely boy, Ishmael. When Cohen mentioned that this was to be his project in a previous interview, we sat there in his flat in Herziliya looking at the etchings of William Blake. His work, although seemingly spontaneous, is carefully crafted and edited till we get to the raw essence, this is a welcome addition, a tikkun, a revitalization of the Biblical story as perceived spiritually and realized in the tradition of great Biblical art.
Mr. Cohen’s photograph of the angels flying around in circles surrounded by black backdrop is an epiphany worth experiencing. He has a natural way with his models, mostly great bearded men who seem to bare their souls to the lens, showing human compassion and a gentleness that makes us feel a sense of flight.
In another room of the gallery, art lovers can see his next project: Moses. I highly recommend that you see this work. It is the real thing!
thanks to Mark M. Whelan
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