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Bringing comic books and the Bible together

Posted: January 22, 2010 9:23 p.m.
Updated: January 23, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Artist Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik has been engaged in the traditional Jewish art of papercutting for 15 years. Brynjegard-Bialik will showcase his fine art titled "Paper Midrash" at the Merge Jewish Community Center of Orange County from Jan. 24 through Feb. 27.

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Local artist Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik has brought together comic books, fine art, and the Bible for a new show entitled “Paper Midrash,” soon to be on view at the Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County.

The Santa Clarita Valley resident has engaged in the traditional Jewish art of papercutting for 15 years, having discovered the medium while living in Jerusalem. He refers to his work as visual biblical commentary, starting with Torah stories and using his art to explore their meanings.

Brynjegard-Bialik’s papercuts feature strong, crisp lines and sharply defined fields of color built from colored papers, painted backgrounds.

His new series incorporates cut-up pictures and text from comic books.

“I was developing a piece on the pillars of cloud and fire that guided the Israelites through their desert wanderings when the idea came to me,” Brynjegard-Bialik said. “I was thinking about different materials to use, and I began to consider comics.”

He started experimenting. The first pieces he completed in this new style were studies of the pillars.

“It was late at night when I finished them up, and I stepped back to look at them, and realized I had hit upon something very powerful,” he said.

The works on display explore many stories from the Bible, including the parting of the Red Sea, the revelation at Sinai, and the stories of Jonah and Noah.

Some of the works revel in concrete imagery – the long necks of giraffes on Noah’s Ark and the sharp-edged flames of the Burning Bush, for example – while others suggest deeper themes, such as in the abstract representations of God’s presence in the pillars of cloud and fire, he said.

Also on display are some papercuts that incorporate pages from Jewish books bound for disposal.

“I have a hard time thinking of these books being just thrown away,” Brynjegard-Bialik said. “So I saved a few, and I try to give them new life as part of my art.”

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