Jacob El Hanani, ‘Vertical=Horizontal’, Acquavella Galleries

About Jacob El Hanani

“One of the biggest joys is to face the white paper,” declares Jacob El Hanani, who has been producing microscopically detailed ink-on-paper drawings since the early 1970s. Inspired by Albrecht Durer and Minimalism, he practices the ancient art of micrography, in which tiny, calligraphic letters are repeatedly drawn to create abstract designs. Jewish scribes used this technique to transcribe holy texts. El Hanani sees his work as part of this continuum and himself as a champion of the handmade. From afar, his drawings look like soft, shaded blocks. Up close, they resolve into intricate patterns, issued from the brush of an artist for whom tininess is a part of life: “My grandmother made very small couscous; cut the salad into very small pieces. When I looked at the tefillin and mezuza, I saw that there was very small writing inside.”

Israeli, b. 1947, Casablanca, Morocco