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ETERNAL JEWISH SOUL IN ART OF MICHAEL ROGATCHI

Posted 19/6/2018

REFLECTIONS OF THE WORLD-LEADING RABBI

By Rabbi SHMUEL KAMINETZKI

July 22, 2009

 

True art is a reflection not only of the art talent of its creator, but also of the creator's very soul. 

And true Jewish art is a particular expression of the Jewish soul, of the triumphs and trials of the history of the Jewish people from the time of Abraham until today, as well as of the particular experiences which are etched into the soul of each Jewish artist. 

 

Michael Rogatchi shares with us not only his immense talent, but also the very essence of his warm, ebullient Jewish soul in the many works which he has created since the beginning of this awakening as a Jewish artist. 

 

Rogatchi presents works which express the joys and pride of the very beginning of the Jewish nation. He finds his inspiration for such works in the chronicles of the Torah, which is the keystone of our Jewish identity and formed us as a people. We see our forefathers brought back to life on canvas, their integrity and holiness so eloquently and creatively put forth with every brush stroke, making them as if we are looking at the very Jewish soul that we inherited from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

 

Lion of Jerusalem. Oil on canvas. 90 x 70 cm. 2008. Private collection, Finland.Lion of Jerusalem. Oil on canvas. 90 x 70 cm. 2008. Private collection, Finland.

 

The artist also depicts the glory of our return to the Land of Israel, of being able to pray at the Western Wall which indeed, as portrayed by Rogatchi, is guarded by a lion.  That lion symbolises our strength and pride as a people who have remained faithful throughout the years of yearning to be able to pray at this Wall, and who continue to remain faithful, strong and proud. 

 

Then, there are other works that give us a true sense of the far less pleasant, yet, in a way, just as triumphal, aspects of our history. 

 

We experience the turmoil of the Spanish Inquisition, or having to leave a society in which our people flourishes for so long, as the fires of cruel fanaticism nearly destroy us, but cannot destroy our souls and who we are. 

 

In recent times, no event has shaped our nation as tragically, yet also as triumphantly, as the Shoah, the Holocaust, which physically decimated our people, yet, as we see today, left our soul and our essence intact and even stronger. And when Rogatchi depicts the Shoah in his paintings, we indeed feel that while we were so terribly wounded by its horrors, we indeed did survive and are indeed continuing to grow in strength even if our numbers remains small. 

 

Heeding the Book. Oil on canvas.70 x 90 cm. 1998. Heeding the Book. Oil on canvas.70 x 90 cm. 1998.  

 

But not only does Rogatchi share with us his artistic conception of the events and the events and the heroes who have made us, he also brings to artistic life the physical and metaphysical aspects which shaped us and shaped our jewish souls. We do not just see a book; we see the importance and reverence with which that book, a book of our laws and traditions, was held and continues to be held by Jews since the time when it was written. We see just how that book is one of the books that serves to guide us every day and guide our souls to serve our Creator. 

 

And through it all, through all of Michael Rogatchi's art, just through the events and concepts that this soulful Jewish art represents, the very essence of the eternal Jewish soul shines through. Michael Rogatchi's Jewish soul, the soul of a Jewish artist who reminds us all of our own Jewish souls and how they were formed as they continue to give us the very energy that has sustained our loves and the lives of our people over the ages.