David Gershator

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The Sambatyón


West Indies

The Sambatyón

The Sambatyón series--done as large acrylic paintings, was inspired by the legend of a river that goes back to Second Temple times. According to Midrashic legend, the River Sambatyón rages and boils and hurls stones, rocks, and boulders into the air for six days of the week, preventing anyone from crossing it. With the first star on Friday, a voice calls out, “Shabbat!” And the river calms down and rests. The observant cannot cross it on the day of rest. Thus, it is impossible for anyone to cross at any time, except for the Messiah. The Ten Lost Tribes are to be found on the other side. No one knows quite where this river is to be found, though some have claimed to have reached its banks.

About the series, cultural arts critic Jean Etsinger writes, “The literal, the symbolic, and the suggestive interact with a light touch--such as actual footprints aligned on the banks of the waters in ‘Who is Lost? Who is Found? and stepping into and out of the picture in ‘Cosmic Sambatyón.’”
For the artist and poet in everyone, the Sambatyón is a magical river than takes in a world of hopes, dreams, and meanings. While it symbolizes the limits of the human condition, there is always the possibility of reaching the other side, if only in one’s imagination.

"Cosmic Sambatyón"
Acrylic on canvas
60" x 55"

Who is
"Who is lost? Who is found?"
Acrylic on canvas
76" x 36"

"Springs of the Sambatyón"
Acrylic on canvas
60" x 54 1/2"


Kabbalah is the mystical aspect of Judaism. It’s a millennial tradition and literature dealing essentially with the attributes of the divine, with the All or Nothing, with creation, and with the dialectics of the cosmos. According to Kabbalistic tradition, the twenty two letters of the Hebrew alphabet are the creative keys to the cosmic sequence: letters, words, things.

Ktav ashuhri, the printed Hebrew alphabet, is used in traditional texts and illuminated manuscripts. In my work, I use a mix of print and cursive script for its inherent design and meaning, both metaphysical and contemporary. “Kabbalagraphy” is what I call this combination of calligraphy, Kabbalistic motifs, and images of modern physics.

"Creation #2"
Multi media on paper
15" x 22"

"Creation #1
Multi media on paper
15" x 2


Watercolor and ink on paper   11" x 8"


"Daat" (Knowledge)
Watercolor and ink on paper   9" x 8"

"Yesod" (Foundation)
Watercolor and ink on paper
14" x 17"

"Yetzirah" (Formation)
Watercolor and ink on paper
17" x 14"

West Indies

In my West Indian paintings, I use bright, primary colors and maritime motifs, steel drums, tropical vegetation, architectural gingerbread....

West Indies
"West Indies, steel pan"
Acrylic on canvas
55" x 46"

West Indies
"West Indies, cruise ship"
Acrylic on board
36" x 36"