acrylic on canvas, 100 x 130 cm.
Many years ago Raanan was commissioned to paint the seven days of creation on one large canvas. As is his style, he painted several versions, and this painting was one.
According to the Book of Genesis, light was the first thing that was created:
And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.
Color, as we know, is a wavelength of the light that it reflects. In white light, an opaque object that reflects all wavelengths, appears white (one end of the spectrum of color) and an object that absorbs all wavelengths appears black (the other end of the spectrum). The range in-between is called a rainbow of color. This painting is called the Rainbow Landscape because it seems to capture all the colors of the spectrum.
Raanan began this painting by dripping, splashing and pouring paint onto a canvas spread out on the floor. But unlike what generally happens when he does this, no images or symbols emerged from the coagulation of paint. The canvas remained abstract.
He then overlaid this background with bands of more vibrant color, painting freely and lyrically. He remembers that he enjoyed the color, the space and the depth.
He dripped paint by moving a brush over the painting, and he overlaid the red with white to give it more strength by virtue of the contrast. He saw that “there was a feeling of height and depth that continued into the landscape. It also had a heavenly feeling created by the suggestion of stars and constellations.”
As Ousley in "Colour Meditations" explains it, “color is a sevenfold force branching out into numerous channels and currents. All colors have seven properties. Each has seven aspects animating, enlightening and inspiring. Each vitalizes, animates, enlightens, inspires and heals. Also, colors have varying wave lengths and each wave creates a certain rhythm.”
Rainbow Landscape captures these waves of color. It contains the seven major colors of the rainbow - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. The three primary colors – red, yellow and blue – are especially strong, the varying shades of red energizing the painting with a sense of passion. The yellows give the painting luminosity and, like the sun, stimulate and add optimism and brightness. The blues add a calming effect and a sense of serenity. And then the yellow -- combining with blue to create green, the color of nature -- adds harmony and balance.
THEMES AND SYMBOLS
The rainbow is truly a miracle of light, interpreted in color. When the light of the sun is refracted through a very fine cloud, we see a rainbow.
Normally, we see sunlight as simple brightness, but the rainbow reveals to us that the sun’s rays comprise a profusion of scintillating colors. The rainbow is one of the most impressive sights in nature. When it appears in its entirety, it stretches over a large area, and is one of the most wondrous, breathtakingly beautiful and powerful sights.
In Judaism, the rainbow has deeper meaning and significance than its beauty. This is reflected by the blessing that is said upon seeing a rainbow. This blessing praises God, “Who remembers the covenant, and is faithful in His covenant and fulfills His word.”
Of course, this refers to the covenant between God and Noah’s family who had survived the near-total annihilation of humanity in the Flood, after which God promised not to punish humanity in this way again:
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come. I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
The rainbow is a sign from God painted across the sky to bear testimony to His promise that He will never destroy the world, and is therefore a symbol of peace between God and humanity. As such it inspires optimism and hope.
The great 13th century scholar, Nachmanides, sees the rainbow as a symbol of peace between heaven and earth, between God and His world. As he explains, the Flood represented war that God declared against man, and the raindrops were like arrows sent down by God. The rainbow represented a ceasefire.
Even more profound is the symbolism of the rainbow as revelation. Says Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, “In the midst of an overcast sky and threatening clouds, it announces the presence of light.”
In the famed vision of the Prophet Ezekiel, the chariot of God is described as resembling “the sight of a rainbow that appears in the cloud on a rainy day.” Ezekiel continues, “So was the appearance of the glow around, and it was the vision of the image of God’s glory.”
Ezekiel demonstrates but one of the various ways God is manifest in the world. Other ways are through the phenomenon of Divine Providence, through prophecy, through miracles, or through the revelation of God’s glory. Rabbi Chizkiyah ben Manoach Chizkuni (who lived in Provence in the 13th century) comments:
[The rainbow] is a great sign, for it is God’s image, as it were. As it is written [in Ezekiel], ‘And if I wished to destroy them when there is much rain, then I would not show them the image of My glory, for it is not customary for a king to show himself among his servants when they are reproached by him.’
Chizkuni suggests that the rainbow signifies the actual Divine Presence in the world. Not just refracted light, not just a symbol of the peace or the covenant, not just indicative of God’s glory, but a manifestation of God Himself.
And the closest that we can picture it is in the abstract – in this Rainbow Landscape.
 Genesis 1:3.
 Genesis 9:12-16.
 SOURCE Rabbi Hirsch, 9:15
 Ezekiel 1:28.