Messianic artist seeking renewed purpose after experiencing personal loss

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Baruch Maayan (Photo: baruchmaayan.com)

Baruch Maayan is a talented Messianic artist and sculptor. His paintings and sculptures have been exhibited in both Israel and his native South Africa, and many of them are on permanent display at the Gilgal hotel in Tel-Aviv. One of his stone sculptures is in the garden at the Jerusalem House of Prayer. In 2018, his sculptures were displayed at Jerusalem’s Mamilla mall, the pedestrian arcade that runs from the Old City’s Jaffa Gate to King David Street. His sculptures were there for one year.

In November 2018, his wife, Karen, went to be with the Lord. The past few years have been difficult for him. “But now,” he tells KNI excitedly, “I am about to get my own studio. It excites me. I’m beginning to want to do more work rather than just selling the old stuff. [The past three years] I haven’t been as busy as I should be, but it’s beginning to flow again.”

Much of his artworks are for sale on his website, mostly with biblical and prophetic themes. KNI caught up with him for a quick chat about his work, and he confirmed that he will gladly also take commissions.

His art is of many types. Drawings and paintings as well as sculptures in stone and bronze, but he also makes music and writes. “I want to learn as much alphabet – as much art vocabulary as possible – to try different ways. Whether it’s writing, or movies, paintings, drawings, stone, just so I can best speak when is needed. If you only do one type of art, you might become better at it, but it becomes the main vehicle to express yourself. I think art is a communicative medium. The type of art will depend on what, how, and when you want to communicate.”

Artwork by Baruch Maayan

Maayan studied art in South Africa, but never finished his degree because of a radical and personal encounter with Yeshua. He quit the studies and stopped doing art altogether, as he felt it had become an idol. “I gave it over to the Lord, and for a year I wasn’t even impressed by great art,” he said. But about a year later, something happened. He looked after young kids in the inner city in Johannesburg, playing games and telling them stories in the park. It began to rain, and they had to find shelter in the church. Maayan quickly drew some Bible stories and let the kids color them while he told them the stories. He went outside and wept, realizing that God could use his gift. From that time, he picked up his art.

In 1999, he made aliyah with Karen and their three young kids. Another two children were born in Israel. For a year, they lived in Safed, where he had a gallery and a studio, but when the 2000 intifada broke out, tourism halted completely. He served with Messianic leadership in Tel-Aviv and planted a community of believers in the desert. Now Maayan lives in Kiryat Shmona, at the northern tip of Israel, close to the border with Lebanon.

“Wasn’t it difficult to be a believer in Safed?”

“Everybody is more or less religious [in Safed]. I made a lot of friends with the different sects and groups. Some of them felt betrayed when the truth came out, with others we had arguments. It wasn’t easy. But that’s the way it goes. That’s what the Lord has promised us.”

Illustrations by Baruch Maayan

When I ask Maayan about his encounter with Yeshua back in South Africa, he tells me of an experiment he did where he went blindfolded for seven days. This happened in 1979.

“I had come to believe a year earlier, but it didn’t change me, and I didn’t know what to do with it. I was at the second year at art college, Technicon. My blindfolded experiment was part of my frustration. I felt I had learned so much with my eyes, but lost my integrity and honesty. I could do naturalism, mannerism, all these things I learned, but I felt I lost myself in the process. I tape-recorded myself as a diary during these seven days, and on the fourth night, I said ‘the darkness is to live in life without God, but the light is the Lord Jesus the Messiah, who is the light,’ and when I said this, I was in a holy, holy, holy, presence of the Lord, and my life was an open book. I wanted to die, I wanted to become dust, I wanted to vanish. And I knew that I was dead, that I was dust, that there was no escaping the judgment of his glory. I needed mercy, and in that knowledge, I knew what I had to leave. I surrendered all to Yeshua, and I was radically born again. The following day, I had peace and understanding that I had never experienced in the past.”

“What can you tell our readers about your art?”

“Even before I came to the Lord, the art I was doing was, in retrospect, reflecting my search. I’ve been a preacher and a teacher with a prophetic gift, and I know what it’s like to pray for the next meeting and ask the Lord to give the message. And so often, in my experience, we are able to relate in testimony how he leads us and others. When you share a testimony of how you have been comforted, it will comfort others. The same with encouragement, or rebuke, or whatever God wants to tell us. So I would say that my art is prophetic in the sense that it includes spiritual prophecies and testimonies of Yeshua. If I’m thinking of a certain theme in scripture, and I paint it, it’s also a reflection of my own experience.”

Sculpture by Baruch Maayan

“How can our readers pray for you?”

“I want to be useful again. I really feel that I’ve been in a valley since Karen passed. We have times of pruning and times of fruitfulness, and this has been a very harsh pruning. But I also know that God is faithful. Pray God will strengthen me.”

Maayan’s website is www.baruchmaayan.com, where you can purchase his art, and also contact him for specific requests and commissions.