Yona Verwer Modern Amulets - The Kabbalah of Bling


Detail of “Protection Amulet - Pewter”  

Amulet Paintings

Copyright Yona Verwer 2005-2018

“Protection Amulet - Gold”

Oil on canvas

30” x 15”

Private Collection, NYC

“Protection Amulet - Pewter”

Oil on canvas

25” x 17”

“Protection Amulet”

“In God We Trust - Gold”

Acrylic on canvas

30” x 24”

Private Collection, NYC

“In God We Trust - Copper”

Oil on canvas

25” x 15”

“Star Amulet”

Oil on canvas

27” x 17”

Collection of Idea Coalition, Philadelphia

About Kabbala of Bling

For mainstream America, Kabbalah is religion, Madonna style. Or it's the red string bracelet Britney Spears wears to ward off the evil eye. This type of Kabbalah is taken out of context to fit a New Age philosophy. The Torah is a cornerstone of the Kabbalah.  The Baal Shemtov took this mystical Jewish tradition and brought it down to the level of the simple Jew. Until that time, the Kabbalah was inaccessible to the average person. However, Hollywood Kabbalah is a watered down, altered version. Serious Kabbalists say that everything relies on context. It can't just be taken apart and reshuffled for easy consumption. New Age offers instant mystical knowledge, which can be purchased with magical objects such as red bracelets, holy water etc. Certain Kabbalah centers offer classes in which students for a large fee can acquire the “master” title.

For centuries amulets have been used as heavenly appeals for safety, health, wealth and power. The amulets often carried prayers and names to call upon for assistance. They gave the bearer "personal magic" to invoke a higher power to intercede. The Kabbalists used amulets and they are mentioned in the Mishna and Talmud. They were treated with complete seriousness as instruments for intervening in the natural course of events.

Many contemporary individuals experience reality through the filters of prosperity or need. They rely on different types of talismans: worshipping guns, drugs, money for their personal and social well-being, denying the need for divine guidance. In this "spiritual materialism," spirituality is used for material gain or raising status. The use of spirituality to increase the power of the ego and identity prevent the seeker to open up to unknown mysteries, which are the goal of the mystical path.

These paintings reflect on this contemporary concept of self-reliance and the faux spirituality found in the worship of objects for their own value. As Ori Z. Soltes wrote: “Verwer’s Kabbalah of Bling series is intended to merge the deeply spiritual with the banal (“Kabbalah” and “Bling” should ordinarily be mutually contradictory)”.

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Copyright Yona Verwer, 2000-2021. All rights reserved.

About Star Amulet:

“Star of David”, in the Hebrew language “Magen David”, literally “Shield of David”. The term refers directly to God, who shielded the Biblical David fighting Saul.

Over time it became accepted as the universal symbol of the Jewish people. A Star of David, often yellow-colored, was used by the Nazis during the Holocaust as a method of identifying Jews.

This amulet’s main purpose is to counter-balance the Nazi badge and to ward off

evil, and as such should be viewed as an instrument of empowerment.

The metal links in the chain echo concentration camps’ chain-link fences.

The Kabbalah of Bling series features canvasses shaped as large-scale “amulets”, hung on chains, and ready to wear. In their size and shape they are reminiscent of rappers’ bling. These works comment both on the recent misuse of Kabbalah, having been appropriated by pop icons.

For more info scroll to the bottom of the page.