About the Cover Art – Penuel by Batnadiv Hakarmi

This image is part of the series Penuel, which is inspired by the enigmatic encounter between Jacob and the mysterious assailant in Genesis 32: 24-31. This fraught scene of extreme loneliness closes with a transformation, as the injured Jacob is told “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Penuel is a meditation on the inextricable link between the threat of destruction and the birth of identity, the liminal space of death and rebirth.

Initially, I was drawn to Genesis’s account of the primal struggle in Penuel as a way of meditating upon what it meant to be transformed from Jacob to “Israel”, but in the course of working on the series, the nature of the ambiguous foe became multifarious. The works became a struggle with God, with fear, with art, with the paintings themselves. And, as Gerard Manley Hopkins says in a poem inscribed in many of the works, the assailant is always oneself.

Batnadiv Hakarmi is a Jerusalem-based artist and writer who studied painting at the New York Studio School, the International School of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture, Italy, and the Jerusalem Studio School. She has exhibited in solo and group shows in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and New York, and currently heads the art program at Emunah ve’Omanut, a branch of Emunah College. Her works can be seen at www.batnadiv.com

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