Raphael Abecassis is one of the preeminent masters in a new generation of Israeli artists. Paying tribute to his artistic ancestry by incorporating ancient scripts, verses, and prayers into his compositions, Abecassis has gained worldwide recognition as an artist that combines traditional Jewish and Sephardic concepts with contemporary form and style.
Born in 1953 in Marrakesh, Morocco, Abecassis’s family immigrated to Israel when he was just three years old. They relocated to Netivot, a small town with a primarily Moroccan and Sephardic population. In this environment, his family kept its traditions, and Abecassis was able to absorb the bold colors and detailed mosaics of his culture. He later studied art at the College of Education in Beersheva, where he perfected his technique, and before long, he developed a distinctive style that propelled him to worldwide acclaim.
Abecassis first burst onto the Israeli art scene in 1986 when he won Israel’s prestigious national competition for the official Independence Day poster. His design won this competition again in 1991. In 1992, Abecassis was commissioned by Israel’s Ministry of Education and Culture to create the official poster for Sepharad 1992, which marked 500 years since the Jews were expelled from Spain. His exhibit “Odyssey of Spanish Jews,” which also commemorated the event, went on a worldwide tour—from Montreal, to Los Angeles, to New York City. In 1996, his exhibit “Jerusalem 3000,” which featured an extraordinary collection of twenty-five paintings that celebrate the 3000-year anniversary of Jerusalem, also went on an international tour.
In 1999, Abecassis introduced his collection “Place and Time,” The paintings, which draw inspiration from the Bible, toured extensively throughout the United States. Abecassis’ work has also been exhibited in renowned museums and galleries across the world, including Israel, the United States, Europe, and Canada.
It is not difficult to see why Abecassis has earned international recognition for his tremendous talent and strikingly unique style. With excellent technical skill, he integrates the natural with the supernatural, the traditional with the modern, the physical with the spiritual. He creates a harmonious balance in his work that celebrates the past and embraces the future. Abecassis draws from his faith and tradition, and in turn, his work is steeped in Jewish history—from vibrant scenes of Jewish life to symbols of long-standing Jewish tradition. There is a formal perfection at stake which Abecassis only celebrates with his glorious use of color. Vivid, vibrant colors spark each piece, not only bringing the art to life, but the faith to life as well. Abecassis’ innovative collection of color and form emits a vibrant aura that captivates the viewer. Through many artistic mediums—paintings, serigraphy, ceramic, embroidery, silver and stained glass windows—Abecassis has brought his innate understanding of the Jewish experience to his work, and created art that has inspired and influenced others throughout the world.