Mordecai Ardon was born in Poland to a devout Jewish family. He chose to study art in Germany and was involved with left wing movements. With the rise to power of the Nazi Party, Ardon fled to Palestine and settled in Jerusalem in 1933. Living in provincial Eretz Israel, an exile from his avant-garde crowd in Germany, was a difficult experience for the young artist. After the war he learnt that his entire family had perished.
Painted in 1951, a period of turmoil in Israel, Parable 1 x1 is a self portrait. Portraits, although painted in different periods of his life, are nevertheless quite rare in Ardon's oeuvre. 'In all his portraits, it is apparent that Ardon is more interested in rendering spiritual identity rather than merely physical presence. The emphasis is on the sitter's psychological complexities. Ardon's self portraits and portraits are always passionate, concerned and emphatic commentary upon the innermost feelings of his model. In 1951 Ardon painted two important self portraits, Child with Cuckoo Clock and Parable of 1x1. In both works Ardon abandoned the figurative approach and instead, relies on a complex net of cryptic but telling details to suggest the thoughts and feelings of the young Mordecai'.(A Schwartz, Mordecai Ardon The Colors of Time, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, 2003, p. 61).
In her 1973 Ardon monograph, Michelle Vishny relates to this painting: 'The artist depicts himself as a student. Seated at his desk he faces an insoluble problem, for the answer is a trap, a symbol that appears in several of Ardon's paintings'. (M. Vishny, Mordecai Ardon, New York, 1973, p. 43).
'In Parable 1x1 Ardon portrays himself as a young student who perplexed, observes a slate on which an unknown hand has traced the first term of the Pythagorean multipulation table 1 x 1, leaving the product of this simple operation unresolved. The number one is an almost universal symbol of the standing person, and more specifically, of the active person associated with the creative process. It is also the symbol of the Revelation, of the awareness which elevates the human being to the higher status of the initiated. For Jung, it is a basic "unifying symbol", loaded with an extremely powerful psychic energy which strives to achieve the conciliation of the opposing poles of an antinomy.
Plotinus equates the number one with moral purpose. By not writing the product of this simple arithmetical operation, Ardon might have wished to underscore that the maltipulation of man's efforts to reach perfection is a completely open question and might possibly result also in a dead end. The fact that a mouse - which in Ardon's symbolic language stands for a persecuted Jew - is heading towards a blind alley where further progress is impossible, might support this interpretation.' (A. Schwartz, Ibid, p. 62).