Brindatch Alphabet

Galina PodolskyGalina Podolsky

The Hebrew Alphabet in the Artist’s Homily

If the world faded and became worn out, the art imbues us with a hope to act like Jewish tailors did: to have the same coat turned and made renewed.

In a sense the “Hebrew Alphabet Letters” exposition of Victor Brindach to be inaugurated in the Tel Aviv Bible Museum on November 22 represents a version of such turned and renewed coat as compared to previous searches of the artists.

All cultures throughout the world are supported by symbolic meanings of letters.

For Victor Brindach artistic comprehension of the Hebrew Alphabet is one of the sacred themes in Judaism. Suffice to recall the cycle “Hebrew Alphabet Letters” created by the artist in the 1990-ies, which contained 22 paintings.

The tradition maintains that Jews were delivered their alphabet by the angels as a language of heavenly and mystical symbolism. The Almighty himself exposed to Adam in the Garden of Eden the art of scripture and word composition related to cipher conformity on the basis of 22 letters. Kabbala ascribes to each one them mystical and magic essence, symbolic power of achieving telepathic forces, interrelation with the global planetary world. Though, like in Taro cards, apprehension of laws related to their cosmic essence makes sense only as a prototype of earthly realms.

The Hebrew alphabet is traditionally divided into three groups of letters. The first group contains three letters – Alef, Mem, Shin representing three cosmogonies, Air, Water and Fire. The second group is that containing seven reduplicate letters: Beth, Gimel, Dalet, Kaf, Peh, Reish, Tav. These are connected with metaphysical and astral interpretations related to specific planets, geographical directions (North, South, East, West) and astronomic dimensions (top, bottom, center). 12 simple letters corresponding to the Zodiac signs comprise the third group.

This division was assumed as a basis of the “Hebrew Alphabet Letters” first version created in the 1990-ies.

But later on V. Brindach recurs to of the fanciful Hebrew calligraphy. In this respect the most noteworthy is his “Laila” canvas devoted to letter “Lamed” which is an allegory of power. According to Kabbala “Lamed” means 3, representing the principle of spiritual authority and balance in the manifested world, with a sleeping lioness on its basis. But “Lamed” is also the Wisdom acquired only by those who studies incessantly. That is why one of the bends in the letter, the calligraphic parallel separating between the earthly and the cosmic realms, is occupied by a man of wisdom perceiving the sacred runes of the universe.

The new series is presented differently. The letter symbolism of V. Brindach is a pictorial homily created by the artist from countless meaningful allusions inspired by the figurative-aesthetic realm of Judaism, each meaningful essence presenting an interest inside its letter without abolishing reality. Here the artist pays no attention to metaphysical and astral interpretations of symbols inherent in the ancient alphabet. What is important here is memorization of the letter, its analytic-associative apprehension.

Associative-Phonetic Keys to Letters

The exhibited “Hebrew Alphabet Letters” actually constitute an alphabet where the letter is recognized by its calligraphic image and is retained in one’s memory by its phonation. This is achieved by means of the nominal object revealed by the artist, which becomes an artistic image of figurative painting. For instance, images-analogues of some letters are related to fauna inhabiting the earth, the heaven and the water realms, but, though connected to the elements, these images are not overburdened with Taro symbolism, but presented as associative keys to letters.

Alef is “arye” (lion) taking its steps along the upper edge of the letter, as if in a majestic mystery of fire, sun and power revealed through the alphabet to anyone endeavoring to comprehend it.

Dalet is “dagim” (fish), the element of the water realm with the Divine spirit soaring above. As said in the Book of Job, where “water embraced the soul, and the head was twined with sea-grass”, the water depths are the symbol of everything which is unexplored and obscure. In the water homily of V. Brindach the dolphins push off with their tails, as if diving from a spring-board, the upper bar of Dalet. They are swooping down to the mysterious trefoil of deep-sea fish, and to overcome this enigmatic obstacle means to cross the world of illusions.

Nun is “nesher” (eagle). An eagle under sunbeams resembling creative fire, which is the metaphor for birth of Yahveh. That is why the eagle perceives additional power and force, becoming double-headed, which symbolizes the sacred source of honor and authority.

Peh is “parah” (cow), the divine nurse feeding with its milk all flesh. And the world around is flourishing.

Samekh is “sus” (horse). A boy dreams to have a living horse. He sees it everywhere: in the winged horse of the clouds, in wind rushing like a horse-herd. He keeps telling unceasingly his boyfriends about it, but they do not seem like being disposed to believe in the miracle. But once upon a time the heavenly horse becomes an earthly one. And the little dreamer solemnly saddles his dream. V. Brindach locates the boy saddling the horse inside the letter Samekh, emphasizing the boy’s emotional state, his sensation of happiness and joy. And side by side another bright legend is occurring, that of a deer and its cubs: Zhadi is “zhvi” (deer).

Traditions supplementing the calligraphy aesthetics

The other part of the exposed letter images is created in the aspect of romanticized Judaic thought.

These are genre paintings composed on aesthetic comprehension of the Jewish sources, history, tradition, consolidation of national and religious self-identification. As, for instance, Beth – Bar-Mitzvah. It is said in “The Sayings of the Fathers”: “At the age of five one begins studying the Holy Scripture, at the age of ten “The Oral Torah”, and thirteen is the age of observing commandments”.

A man can reach physical maturity, but remain immature emotionally, and vice versa. The Jewish tradition determines maturity as ability to bear responsibility. It is not by chance that the notion “bar-mitzvah” literally means “the son of Commandments”. In the figurative composition “Bar-Mitzvah” the artist depicts this moment of Commandment perceived by the future man. The boy reads the weekly Bible chapter in the synagogue. He is agitated. He certainly spent weeks cramming the text, which only now became a spiritual emanation for him. Such is the artistic Torah blessing.

Gimel is “galut” (exile). And the waves (“galim”) parted. In the Song of Moses the Jewish people heard: “And with the blast of Thy nostrils the waters were piled up – the floods stood upright as a heap; the deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea”.

What’s that? Hyperbola? Poetic exaggeration? No! That is the way the Almighty interferes in our life creating miracles. A strong eastern wind moved the water the whole night through. Thus, a dry area split the sea. That was the miracle which accompanied the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. The artist does not depict those escaping from Egypt as martyrs emaciated by the heavy burden of the route, but as people with lightened faces inspired by the Divine will. In white festive vestments they are stepping solemnly, matching the white-foamy crests of the split waves, with their Book of Books (Tav – “Tanach”). And Hey sounds gently in the prayer (“Havdalah” – the “separating prayer” at the end of Sabbath). And Rabbi (Reish) helps the stumbling to rise back. And man is searching for peace in himself and around as heavenly blessings (Shin – “shalom”, “shamaim”). And here is the festive fuss, preparations to betrothal – Kaf – “Kelullot”. And the old fellows go on arguing – Vav – “vakkhanut” (passion for arguments and debates). Though, no matter how insoluble these debates are, all pious Jews heed the word of God when gathered around the table of the family meal (Mem – “ma’amin” – faithful, believer).

I’d like to remind that the genre figurative is the sphere where Victor Brindach has been working successfully for many years. Some of his compositions and images became icons identified by spectators as his author’s trade-marks. “The Hebrew Alphabet” abounds in these icons, which are integrally interspersed in the plastic ligature of the letters. This concerns first of all the image of the old Jew with his grandchild. It is quite possible that there was a period when this image was autobiographical. But, wandering from one canvas to another, these two became in the fine arts of Brindach the symbol of ambivalent unity of souls, personification of wisdom and naïve simplicity, interweaving the past with the future, and, finally, transformation of old age by infant ingenuousness imparting energy and impelling will-power to life. And though the real grandson has already grown up, in the paintings of his grandfather he always remains the hero child leading his grandpa in the clouds.

“The Hebrew Alphabet” cycle of V. Brindach is implemented in an emotionally light coloring. White-blue tallithot (Tet – “tallith” – praying shawl) are depicted as clouds soaring in the sky, hills spreading on the earth, waves heaving above the sea.

And the people of Israel (Ayin – “am” – people) in tallithot are the holy people maintaining by its prayer the holy city of Jerusalem (Yod – “Yerushalaim”). Thus tallith in the artist’s cycle becomes the aesthetic-artistic component associated with spiritual perfection of Judaism, creating the impression of presence of God handing over the holy letters to the Jews.

At that, the composition of each one of the canvases is implemented so as to promote the calligraphic image itself to generate in its turn artistic essences. This is extremely important to understand that the images found by the artist help to apprehend what has been presented, due to the Jewish tradition, from above.


Victor Brindach is an artist of wide professional range. His monumental mosaics resemble the artist’s works in Odessa and Khabarovsk, his monumental composition “The Hero” (2.5 m) in Nizhni Novgorod, the stained-glass windows in Taishet. Gladdening the eye are “The Voskresensky Cockerel” (forged copper, 2 m, the Moscow district), “The Deers” (forged copper) in Irkutsk, sculptural compositions “The Nude with Dolphins” (Odessa, Samzheika), “The Deers” (sheet copper) in Irkutsk, the composition of horses (“The Gift”, 2 m) in the Tambov district.

Since 1993 V. Brindach is in Israel, residing in Tel Aviv. He is a member of the Professional Artists Association of Israel, a member of the Tel Aviv Artists Association. In 1994 eleven oil canvases of V. Brindach were delivered by Joint to the Moscow Museum of Modern Jewish Art. A. Rapoport devoted to this occasion an extensive article in “The Arts” magazine (1994, No.1, pp. 62-63).

Among personal exhibitions in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv the most significant one was that presented at the Tel Aviv “Bible Museum”. The artist took part in international exhibitions (namely, in Argentine). The range of problems V. Brindach is considered with in Israel differs from that which made him being known in the USSR where he performed his works in the Central House of Artists in Moscow, in the St. Petersburg “Manege” Museum, at the “Kuznetzky Bridge” gallery.

“The Way to the Temple” exposition at the Talpiyot Museum of the Israeli Professional Artists Association captures the artist’s attitude to the up-to-date political events.

Victor Brindach, a graduate of the Kharkov College of Arts, who mastered his artistic skills in studios of honored Russian artists P.T. Gusev, I.M. Rukavishnikov, is a modern Israeli artist.

The way of the artist’s searches towards his new cycle of the Hebrew Alphabet is ambiguous, interesting, reflecting the world of traditional Judaism and based on the principles of modern alphabet apprehension, taking into account its phonetic expression and graphical presentation. Such is the artist’s speech captured on the canvas, an amazing homily where the grandfather smoothly enters Chanukah with his grandson …

The “Hebrew Alphabet Letters” of Victor Brindach exhibited at the Tel Aviv Bible Museum will be displayed till December 13.

Galina Podolsky

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