Hannah Gal
Hannah Gal

Israeli artist stars in Jordan Peterson’s podcast

By Juliet Fogra
Rule 5 Do Not Do What You Hate by Juliette Fogra

Her Russian-Jewish parents still reside in the ancient town of Ramle, to where they immigrated with then 14 rear old Juliette.  The shy teenager found Hebrew near impossible to master, but went on to serve in the army, study art and later, make New York her home.

The Riga born artist just illustrated Jordan Peterson’s latest bestseller Beyond Order: 12 More Rules For Life, creating twelve enthralling montages that captured the ‘rockstar’ thinker’s imagination.

The famous clinical psychologist used his popular podcast to introduce Fogra’s art to millions of his followers. The two spent over 80 insightful minutes musing over life, art and rather inevitably, oppressive Soviet ideology.

Fogra spoke candidly about the culture-shocked 14 year old trying to find her voice in Israel, her oppressive Riga childhood under Soviet rule, ‘sticking out’ as the only Jewish child, and her uniquely rich, multi layered, ‘fairy tale’, montage technique.

Each of the images she painstakingly produced, was displayed for viewers to enjoy before Peterson and Fogra discussed the illustration, and the often complex text it poignantly illustrates.

Peterson’s narrative is one Fogra has been following for years and the on -screen kinship is undeniable. His message of beauty’s pivotal role in our lives, strikes a cord with Fogra, who recalls her dark and dreary Riga childhood.

 

Her own revelation of beauty came at the age of 12, she told Peterson, when a tape of Queen’s iconic — The Show Must Go On, filled her “monochrome” life with colour and awe. “The area I lived in had no colour, even the clothes were all black or dark brown, or dark blue” she explained, “I’ve never heard anything as beautiful, I was obsessed with it because suddenly, there was beauty in my life and suddenly life was worth living – there’s a place, out there, where I’m destined to be,I feel captive in this country.”

It all started with a contest announced on Twitter, details of which Juliette received from none other than actor, musician and London mayoral candidate Lawrence Fox. Several years prior, Fogra granted Fox permission to use her poster of him for his A Grief Observed tour, and the two remained in touch. Fogra has since collaborated with Fox on several items including the Reclaim Party logo.

As 12 Rules For Life’s illustrator Ethan Van Siver was unavailable, Peterson decided to run an online contest “and perhaps allow someone an opportunity that they might not otherwise have obtained.”

Contestants were asked to produce a line drawing of Beyond Order’s first rule ‘Do Not Carelessly Denigrate Social Institutions Or Creative Achievement’, and Fogra felt inspired. Apprehensive at first about Peterson’s world-renowned intellect, Fogra was encouraged by her husband to “do her usual thing”, and her rich, monochrome creation stood out.

“I’m very pleased with the illustrations” reflected Peterson, “I think they have an interesting fairy tale quality to them, a kind of classic fairy tale.. a Victorian quality as well, which seemed appropriate to the content.”

Working with Photoshop, Fogra created montages made of hundreds of components. “I would find the heart of the image and work towards the edges” she explained, then “I would flawlessly integrate the hundreds of pieces into each other. Once all the pieces combined into a scene, I would digitally paint over what’s been created in order to add another layer of perception, and achieve a fine art flair. I’ve found a way to achieve a classical atmospheric piece through the ‘back door’, because painting physically is no longer possible for me due to my illness.”

Perhaps due to her prior familiarity with Peterson’s narrative, Fogra’s striking images extend well beyond the given brief, to add an element of wonder and intrigue. She has incorporated classic Peterson motifs into the illustrations, reflecting on the depth of her engagement, and bringing a smile to his followers’ faces. 

Rule 7 Work As Hard As You Can On At Least One Thing And See What Happens

In Rule 7 for example – Work As Hard As You Possibly Can On At Least One Thing And See What Happens, Fogra used Carl Jung’s face to convey the fatherly, reassuring eyes of the master, teaching the keen young boy the art of shoemaking. The atmospheric image perfectly illustrates the message of the importance of mastering your craft and the value of constructive discipline. 

Furthermore, a photograph of her son was used for the charming boy’s image, as he leans attentively towards the sun-lit window, to carefully examine the shoe-in-progress. 

In Rule 9 — If Old Memories Still Upset You, Write Them Down Carefully And Completely, Fogra used an image of Peterson himself, taken from one of his YouTube lectures, as he gazes upwards in deep thought. 

The illustrations were produced during a famously trying time for Peterson and his family, and Fogra resolved to help ease his burden through her imagery. She responded to a brief “containing a paragraph or two, with 1-3 relatable samples” that Peterson has attached, showing the idea he had in mind. 

For Rule 4 for example, Peterson suggested the dancing women in the background, as the world’s overwhelming weight lays heavily on Atlas’s shoulders. “What calls you out into the world” explains Peterson, is not ease, but “struggle and strife — it’s very difficult to rejoice and play when responsibility remains un shouldered.”

Rule 6 Abandon Ideology

For all 12 Rules, Fogra has used “early 19th-century oil painting flair” as a guide. “Graphics nowadays are too literal and sharp which leaves no place for mystery” she reflected.

The ideas for the illustrations, “would not come until the first and second phases of my work were reached. First, a chaotic collection process of highly relatable visual pieces of information, followed by the selection process — I would start this collage from the center, the heart of a piece, and add on pieces until I saw where I am unconsciously heading with it. Once I’m satisfied, I would bounce it off Jordan Peterson to get feedback.”

Fogra’s favourite rule is Do Not Do What You Hate –  “because of the message of not doing what you hate, and for the complexity of a contradictory emotion” she said, “also because of my past.”

A past, poignantly depicted in the rule Abandon Ideology, through Fogra’s striking take on the Soviet Propaganda Poster. Immaculately executed, it carries the classic bold, Soviet graphic style, and relates directly to Peterson’s chilling warning.

Tens of millions of people will see Fogra’s illustrations as they reflect upon Peterson’s wisdom, a prospect that fills the artist with both joy and dread. A podcast with one of the most highly visible figures on the planet has inevitably drawn attention to her craft — “I can’t wrap my head around what’s happening to me” she told me, I’ve been called a ‘real master’, a ‘visual melodist’, a ‘true artist’, and that is shocking to me to say the least.”

Showing humility and gratitude Fogra is certainly a Peterson disciple to behold.

About the Author
Hannah is a London based journalist covering culture and current affairs. She writes about photography, film and TV for outlets in the UK and US, and covers current affairs with particular interest in the Jewish world. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and photographer. Her films were screened in festivals worldwide and parts of her documentary about Holocaust survivor Leon Greenman were screened on the BBC.
Related Topics
Related Posts
Comments