An Unorthodox Artist


When most people think of a spiritual awakening, they don’t
necessarily think of such a thing taking place at the GAP.  But then again,
artist Orit Arfa isn’t really into conventionality.

While walking down the streets of Manhattan seven years ago,
dressed in her ankle-length skirt and modest Orthodox clothing, Arfa caught a
reflection of herself in a revolving door.

“I felt I looked really shleppy, and it didn’t really
reflect who I was inside and what I was feeling,” she said.

Arfa immediately marched straight to the GAP and into a new
pair of jeans. “I was jumping up and down! There was this freedom. This
spiritual freedom. It seemed like the whole world opened up for me.” 

For Arfa, the experience was not only religiously
liberating, it was creatively liberating.

“I knew that part of my challenge was to break the
stereotypes of the ideal Jewish woman, both for myself, and I wanted to paint
the foremothers as sexual, sensual, beautiful, vibrant women,” Arfa said.

Since then, Arfa has moved to Israel, where she expresses
her individual — and often controversial — views on religion, politics, and
life through her art. Her biblical portraits challenge traditional female roles
and mainstream public opinion, and her figurative style challenges typical abstract
Israeli art.

“I’m not a well-known artist, but I feel very proud that my
art is going against the trend of the art community in Israel. The art
community here is so completely left. It’s very anti-reason art,” she said.

This month, Arfa’s works will be on display at the Gaffen
Wine Center in Jerusalem from March 16-April 5. The show, which takes place
during the Purim season, will include a variety of the artist’s biblical
portraits including her painting of Queen Esther as the “Queen of Nightlife” — a
work that was inspired by Arfa’s fondness for the Purim holiday and her
experiences in the Jerusalem nightlife scene. “I saw many similarities between
parties described in the biblical story and nightclub raves. Both glorify
beautiful women, drinking and hedonism,” Arfa said on her Web site. To see some
of Orit Arfa’s works, visit

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