Yoel Benharrouche and the Spiritual Abstraction

Yoel Benharrouche Explores Divinity in Colorful Contemporary Art

Yoel Benharrouche’s dynamic and colorful contemporary art reminds art critics of modern masters like Chagall and Picasso, two of Yoel’s artistic and stylistic mentors. Benharrouche’s languid figures are inspired by Marc Chagall’s poetic, figurative style and his dreamy almost-abstractions, while his multi-layered paintings, papercuts, and sculpture democratize space like the cubism of Pablo Picasso, blending foreground and background into one, strong note–or, in this case, prayer–of artistic jubilance. “Picasso,” he says, “is very strong, because he has structure. But his problem was that he was too structured. Chagall is totally in the clouds, totally spiritual. I make sure to be between these two.”


Yoel Benharrouche
Acrylic on Canvas
100Ă—300 cm | 39Ă—118 in

Benharrouche’s artistic philosophy is a sort of metaphysics that blends these two concepts of structure and spirituality, where he asks, “how does one take something from the spiritual to the physical?” So much of our world is potential, and we want to reveal it. All art is to bring something from one place to another. I bring spiritual work to physical paintings in order to reveal what is already there.

The drive behind Benharrouche’s work is to connect spirituality with the physical. To reveal the unity of the world through color, shape, and form. “We’re in the universe of plurality,” he says, “so I try to reveal the unity in the plural, the connection that exists between one and infinity. Therefore, every work that I create is one part of a whole, the different facets and faces of G-d’s oneness.” His work takes on a spiritual tone even without meeting with Yoel. Each work combines many planes, woven together to give the audience a sense of simultaneous time and space, godly in its omnipresence. On God, Yoel has a lot to say, “I take this infinite oneness and I contract, or limit it using the highest levels of the physical: Place, time, and identity. These are the driving principles of my artwork, and each one of my pieces navigates G-d’s oneness using these levels.”


Yoel Benharrouche
Lacquer on Metal
100Ă—80 cm | 39Ă—31 in

In works that celebrate femininity, community, music, and of course, Yoel’s muse, Jerusalem, Yoel explores the metaphysical landscape of our world. “The woman,” he says, talking about the women in his artworks, “the woman is not a body, not a “figure,” but instead she is like a screen, almost a metaphor.” It is onto this “screen” Yoel projects his ideas, his pictures, his paintings. In the case of The Garden of Eden, another common motif in his work, Yoel signifies a perfect, symbiotic relationship of physical and spiritual, of soul and body, of man and woman as its own paradise.


Yoel Benharrouche
Lacquer on Metal
170Ă—130 cm | 66Ă—51 in

Yoel’s work is, in its essence, a discussion with the divine, taking the seemingly regular and elevating each subject to the level of the extraordinary. His art is in touch with a deeply spiritual element–that which deepens what would otherwise be the mundane experience of living, and isn’t that what we’re all looking for?

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