Minneapolis artist Aribert Munzner has a great deal to say about origins, and Kabbalistic concepts of the first book in the Tanach, the Hebrew Bible. The question of how everything was created, and keeps getting created, informs his “Genesis” series of paintings — 500 artworks dating back to 1956.
Some readers might recall that Munzner’s painting “Genesis 98-3(R) appeared on the cover of the AJW’s Rosh Hashana edition in 2001/5761.
The acrylic on canvas painting reproduced on the cover of the AJW’s Rosh Hashana special edition this week is “Genesis 12.1.07.” The actual painting, executed with a fine sable brush and thousands of meticulous strokes, measures 5-feet high by 4-feet wide.
The bright intricate painting evokes a burst of energy — perhaps, the Big Bang. Munzner, who retired from teaching at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1993, discusses the concept of tzimtzum (concealment and contraction), as articulated by Rabbi Isaac Luria, the 16th century Kabbalist from Tsfat, Israel, in connection with his painting.
“The universe contracted itself in order to create itself,” explains Munzner, about the mystical view of the world’s origins. (Rosh Hashana is traditionally referred to as the “birthday of the world.”) “It’s a marvelous concept of what at first appears to be a contradiction; but it’s not,” adds Munzner, who says that Luria’s idea resonates in Einsteinian theories and quantum mechanics.
Regarding the Bible’s first word, B’reishit, Munzner says it’s not “in the beginning, but in a beginning; and each moment is a new beginning of cosmic consciousness that we might contribute to.”
Munzner is married and his wife, Joan, is a retired French teacher. The Munzners, who belong to Temple Israel in Minneapolis, have two adult daughters, Naomi and Tamara.
We’re so happy that Ari Munzner has come to our community (by way of Mannheim, Germany, and Baghdad, Iraq). And we’re grateful that he has contributed a wonderful work of art for our Rosh Hashana edition.
— Mordecai Specktor