Portrait of an Artist: Mordechai Edel
Opening our Eyes to G-d’s Beautiful Garden: Edel’s Art Strikingly Portrays Light and Joy
Written by Bob Markin
The words ‘light’ and ‘joy’ have significant importance to the amiable and multi-talented person whose widely-lauded captivating art adorns the cover and these pages of Senior Line.
For Mordechai Edel, painter-extraordinaire of awesome oil-paintings, sepia sketches and hand-painted wedding ketuvim, “the ‘raison d’être’ for all my art is to bring joy to the world, to inspire people to see the ‘joy’ and the ‘light’ that’s in the world. Hashem gave us a beautiful garden and we have to open our eyes to fully see the wonder of it all.”
His strong emphasis on the ‘positive’ was passionately conveyed during a recent interview with him in which his characteristic warm smile and gentle manner never wavered – even when he recounted some of the many challenges he’s faced over the years. Mordechai grew up in Birmingham, England in the milieu of his Austrian-born parents who barely escaped the Holocaust, and who mourned relatives who were unable to leave. He became fatherless at age 16, and was not able to pursue his early dreams because he needed to help support his family, leaving school at age 14.
And more recently, a truly devastating occurrence: through-no-fault-of-their-own, Mordechai and his loving wife of over four decades, Annie, lost almost all of their life-savings. But, with that, came additional resiliency. ‘Mordechai’s Artidote’, as he terms it, stresses a stronger resolve than ever to combat darkness, with ‘light’, “to produce paintings which vibrate with joyful energy”.
His art works are nothing short of beautiful. Utilizing a small ‘studio’ which takes up a portion of his living-room, he meticulously – and most of all, inspirationally – strokes his paintbrush to easel to produce bright, bold, colourful works which truly stir the emotions. Symbolism plays a huge part in his artistic vision and his paintings are often vibrant with usage of chiaroscuro, the representation of light and shadow.
Deeply spiritual, in his life and in his art, he states, “The task Hashem (G-d) gave to the Jewish people is ‘to be a Light to the nations’ and as Jews, we have a duty to bring a brilliant Light to this world, to help create a wealth of holiness, happiness and harmony”.
Jewish themes from his art works include ketuvim (pre-nuptial agreements), kabalistic (mystical) and neshamas (soul) paintings. Other categories include special commissions and portraits, as well as those which have musical, floral and abstract themes.
Mordechai’s works have been lauded by numerous well-known people, many of whom he subsequently created ‘ambiance portraits’. They include, locally – Joe and Rosalie Segal, Morris Wosk z’l, the late Grace McCarthy, Dr. Barrett Benny; and internationally – the Bronfman family of Montreal, the Lubavitcher Rebbe z’l, Elie Weisel z’l, Theodore Bikel z’l, Estee Lauder z’l…and yes, boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter.
His talents don’t stop at art, and he has over the years, beautifully and expertly also conveyed the beneficent values of ‘joy’ and ‘light’ when he serves as a Cantor (at Louis Brier, formerly in Victoria- taught by previous Schara Tzedeck Cantor Moshe Preis). He sings opera (formerly with the Israel National Opera, Burnaby Opera and North Shore Opera). He writes poetry and articles, snaps the shutter as a photographer, and skillfully shapes curls in a beauty-parlour (previously at his own shop in Vancouver). Whew!
Spurring Mordechai forward is the love of his wife Annie and their three children, Rachelle, in Vancouver; Joshua, a professor of nanotechnology at the University of London, and Esther, in Israel.
Always looking ahead, he plans to shortly publish ‘Tikkun Time’, an Edel art book on the mystical celebration of the Jewish calendar.
Mordechai warmly welcomes inquiries about his art. “Let’s paint a world of joy together”, he states, adding with his characteristic kindness, that a portion of all purchases will go to charity along with his blessings to the buyer.
He is truly an amazing talent…with a heart-of-gold – filled with ‘light’!