A retrospective glance

 

My assumption is that every artist's career develops in different periods of his life.. The artist's work is part of his life - it grows with him or her and goes with him or her through events, struggles, victories and defeats. Art accompanies the artist each step on the way. Consequently, most artists change the content and style of their work at different stages of their lives. Through art, an artist sometimes finds expression for his or her feelings, sometimes a mean for an internal dialogue or for an intimate search for the more profound meaning of things, sometimes simply a withdrawal from reality into a higher sphere. This, for example, explains much of the artistic creativity that I witnessed in the concentration camp at Theresienstadt.

 

My creative activity has gone through several periods, though all, ranging from the relatively figurative paintings of my youth to the more abstract paper works of my recent years, have been strongly influenced by my personal experiences in the holocaust. At the same time, turning to nature is characteristic of my latest period, embodied by the very fact of creating my own paper from plants.

The subjects of my paper works are mainly expressed abstractly. I would like to give here an example what I wrote at my exhibition in Prague in 1996, named "Pages From My Diary and Beyond":

"..Copies of pages from my diary, which I wrote during the German occupation in the Theresienstadt ghetto therefore the childish handwriting and which, besides a small fragment, has not been published before, were inserted into some works exhibited here. Some parts of the diary are legible, others not so readable. My purpose was not to bother other people with my personal destiny. It was to share the experience of entering "the landscapes of darkness in the soul" with the viewer. These "landscapes" are preserved by others among us, buried deeply inside them, in recesses of their souls, where all is dark, uncertain, unknown. Paradoxically, it is precisely in this domain of spirit that we can find clear outlines of forms, those which represent anxieties and hopes. My works seek to give these an expression. The pages where my diary is not present are inspired from my life afterwards.

 

The process of producing handmade paper is a lengthy one, but I shall try to describe it in short:

I gather different suitable plants, cook them, crush them into separate fibers, color and mould them, press and dry. (Sometimes, instead of plants in their natural state, I use remnants of cotton rags or I recycle old paper). During this process I undergo something of spiritual experience, feeling that I am entering into the sphere of the essential. My work aims at expressing this sense of essence, which is hidden in the material itself.

When possible, immediate contact with nature has been an important part of my life. Above the entrance of the Botanic Garden in Brooklyn is an inscription which I cherish:

" He Is Happiest Who Hath Power

To Gather Wisdom From a Flower"

 

I have the feeling that one, who draws strength and inspiration from plants, and lives among them, walks hand in hand with Eternity. It is this feeling which provides a strong motivation for creative activity and characterizes my work.

 

 

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