Thelma Appel - Artist Statement

EquinoxIIIFor most of my creative life I had been involved in depicting aspects of nature. Originally, my intention in painting was to explore the tension that exists between observed reality and abstract synthesis. Each section of the canvas had to stand on its own yet represent the whole in a synecdochical way. The interweaving brushstrokes and layering color became metaphors for the contiguities that exist in nature. I tried to express in each painting the particular physical and visual experience that impelled it. The picture plane itself was tilted and flattened to convey a feeling of being a part of that particular landscape experience.

After 2000, National and personal traumas radically changed my work. I was concerned with catastrophes which affected people, their losses and dislocations. Paintings like "Exodus by Moonlight", "Prophetic Vision", "Early Theophany", "Night of the Attack" were done at that time.

PropheticVisionBy 2006, I became deeply involved in metaphysical symbolism as depicted in the Kabbalah's influence on the twenty two Major Arcana (Mysteries) of the Tarot. Kabbalah originated in medieval Jewish mysticism and means "that which is received". The Kabbalah illustrates a "Tree of Life" consisting of three columns: at the right, the Masculine Principle, ("yang"), the middle column is that of Equilibrium, and the left is the Feminine Principle ("yin"). The columns contain ten spheres of Divine Emanations or Sefirot. Each sphere of Emanation or Sefira, leads ever upwards towards the highest level of “Eyn Sof” (the Void of Eternity) and beyond that comes “Eyn Sof Or" (Endless Light of the Creator). The Kabbalah deals with human striving to reach the Light.


The 22 Major Arcana represent archetypes for human experiences in life and the various states of being starting with the young, innocent, fearless, daring "Fool" and ending with "The World-Universe", which represents the culmination of and reward for all of one's efforts and achievements in life. These Arcana progress within twenty two pathways which connect the ten Sefirot climbing ever upwards towards transcendence. I have tried to interpret these symbolic images in a traditional way and also in a more personally meaningful way. Most importantly for me as an artist, the images had to convey not only their given symbolism in an understandable, functional way, but each had to contain a pictorial integrity as a unique painting on its own merits.