Arie A. Galles

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About the Artist

Arie Galles was born in Uzbekistan. He received his BFA, 1968 from the Tyler School of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, 1968, and MFA, 1971, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught at UW-Madison, SMU-Dallas, SVA-New York, UCSD, San Diego and FDU, Madison, NJ. Galles is Artist in Residence and Professor Emeritus of Painting/Drawing at Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo, CA. His works have been widely exhibited, including solo shows at the O.K. Harris Gallery, NYC, and the Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago. Notable works are his Reflected-Light Paintings and the drawing suite, "Fourteen Stations/Hey Yud Dalet."

SPINOZA, 2020.  Charcoal and white Conté crayon, 30” x 22.” 

Statement about Work

My approach to this drawing raised conceptual struggles regarding the representation of a philosopher and a philosophical concept in visual terms. The drawing evolved from a conversation with my Soka University colleague, Oleg Gelikman, about Spinoza’s enduring relevance in contemporary thinking about politics, democracy and religion. We discussed my creating a drawing that would contribute to an examination of this relevance, while also placing it within my experience of the relationship between Thought, Judaism and Art. A rough idea, which gestated for a number of months, lodged itself in my mind.

My knowledge of Spinoza and his philosophy was sketchy, mostly centered on what I considered his unconscionable excommunication by his coreligionists in 17th century Holland. My mind’s eye first perceived an image of the “Double Shaddai,” the hand gesture made by the ancient High Priests of Israel. I chose to juxtapose the “Shaddai” with Spinoza’s hands and signature in his letter in Latin. Oleg served as a model for both pairs of hands. Thus began the journey to the drawing’s creation.

The drawing methodically directed me to conceptual and structural changes. Areas that were light became dark, the original “Shma” was overdrawn by the first Hebrew words of Bereshit/Genesis. The quill in Spinoza’s hand bent and straightened, eventually releasing a galaxy. The hands changed shades. Over the days, the “Galaxy” began to emit light. The drawing was finished.

Spinoza was and remains an original thinker and a Jew. That link between his thoughts and the Demiurge/Nature was never broken.

This is currently on Exhibit in Galles’ retrospective exhibition, “TRANSFORMATIONS” at Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo, CA.