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Master in Depth

The multidimensional Makoto Fujimura.

Feb 15, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 21 • By DAVID GELERNTER
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But “the complex interplay of ideas” does not make this piece so intriguing. It is intriguing because of its sensual appeal: because of its drawing, colors, and the rich, superfinely knit textures of its intricate patterns and counter-patterns. They give this small diptych the intensity of a spot-lit diamond, and make it commandingly lovely. 

It is fair to speak of ideas conveyed by paintings only in the special sense in which ideas are conveyed by Bach fugues. A painter does not use images to convey thoughts; his thoughts are images. Successful art makes a direct sensual appeal. In his famous, century-old essay on the Florentine painters of the Renaissance, Bernard Berenson wrote of “the heightening of vitality which comes to us whenever we keenly realize life.” That is what art seeks, and what great art achieves.

Fujimura’s thought takes the form of images that, at their best, are deep and captivating. Those who are unwilling to be moved by sensual appeal will see nothing in them. And many of today’s reigning art-intellectuals fall into this category. But for the rest of us—call us “art lovers” for short—these paintings are a revelation.

David Gelernter’s Judaism: A Way of Being, published late last year, is illustrated with his paintings.

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