web analytics
March 7, 2015 / 16 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Home » Sections » Arts »

One Artist, Many Visions: Leonard Kogan At The Chassidic Art Institute


Chassidic Art Institute
375 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11213; (718) 774-9149
Noon-7pm; Sunday-Thursday;
Zev Markowitz, director

 

Transmission is everything. The life’s blood of a people is dependent upon many kinds of transmission; oral, scribal, Talmudic and anecdotal. Irrespective of the modality, transmission is central to the sense of attachment and ultimately the continuity of Jewish identity. For the artist, transmission is a complex but pivotal process, one in which the artist acts as a creative
conduit between the original source and the viewer. As the artist adds meaning and context to the raw memory, a work of art is made, and creation itself expands. The paintings of Leonard Kogan currently on view at the Chassidic Art Institute show us a bit of this process.

Leonard Kogan is a young artist, born in the USSR, who immigrated to Israel with his family about 10 years ago. He has made art since he was a young child, soaking up the traditions and stories of his Jewish heritage in his home in Kishinev, Moldavia. His grandmother would relate stories about his ancestors in Belz, among other relatives that made up the rich fabric of Jewish life in the shtetl. The young artist listened carefully, allowing the brilliant images she conjured to permeate his visual consciousness. Now, years later, they have emerged in his “memory paintings” of Matzah Baker, Water Carrier, and Tinmaker. In most of these images, the figures stare out at us from the center of the canvas, creating a dream-like quality. They are literally a grandmother’s memories filtered through a young artist’s imagination.

Tinmaker (2003) creates the impression of an image captured in a snapshot uncovered from the distant past. A Jewish worker, white bearded with a typical Polish Jewish cap, stands at the ready, towering over a diminutive anvil. Posed in front of a generic wall, he could be anywhere and almost anytime in the thousand years of Polish Jewish history. For Kogan he is a very specific memory of his own grandfather, a crucial link in his own history.

Equally evocative is Cheder (2003) that depicts seven young men crowded around an open book as the leader unobtrusively leads the lesson at the right end of the table. The experience of group learning, with subtle differences between the identically clad boys gently noted in a tilt of one head and the profile of another, is captured as a memory from the shtetl past combined
with Kogan’s own learning experience in the Kishinev yeshiva. Here the transmission is embroidered with personal experience and artistic sensibility.

Kogan is the conduit for another kind of transmission, in the many paintings he has created of the alleys and courtyards of Jerusalem and Zefat. Each painting is painted on site, the artist returning day after day to capture the gentle light and colors of Israel’s most holy cities. His intimate view is rendered on the reduced scale of sixteen by twelve inches. This diminutive size
draws us into a dialogue with these finely composed sonatas of atmosphere and dream-like mood.

The transmission in these works is between the physical reality of the old city and the implied narratives of each work driven by the black garbed Chassidic figures that animate the scenes. While occasionally a scene will stand by itself, evidencing strong composition of a narrow courtyard or rear entrance, most have elusive figures that create a tension between the warm stone houses and individuals hurrying off to an unknown destination.

The Street in Zefat (2003) presents a jumble of battered buildings and hastily constructed additions that line one side of a narrow lane. On the right side a whitewashed wall towers over a robed Chassid who retreats unsteadily from our view. His cane helps him keep his balance while he carries a package in his left hand, perhaps a Gemara or a bundle of fish for dinner.

This rather amazingly unstable collection of buildings is anchored in the center by the calming
presence of the delicate trees that peek over the houses at the end of the lane. Here, in this one intimate view of the backwaters of Zefat, Kogan has summed up a litany our tireless journeys through the bewildering facets of complicated lives.

Similarly, Yard at Natsiv Street (2002) combines a powerful composition with the psychological disjuncture of an isolated figure. Both stone hewn buildings present a psychological wall that makes the painted space narrow and confining, effectively blocking the man walking. And yet he continues to stride unconcerned, trodding the foreground in an assertion of independence. The sharply delineated blue sky finds a visual echo in the blue painted shutters of both houses, bringing heaven a little closer. This painting is yet another example of how Kogan’s process of transmission is shaped by careful selections of what to include and what to exclude in the scene that he finds in Jerusalem’s old quarter. Training his gaze in a totally different direction, Kogan presents us with his only deep space landscape, Kiddush Levono (2002). This is yet a third kind of vision that transmits another aspect of visual experience. Not a memory from his family’s past, or a cityscape, rather it is a scene
experienced on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The painting explores reflection in the physical and spiritual sense. The new crescent moon relates to the main figure in the foreground only through the mediation of its reflection in the lake’s waters and white dots of the Siddurs of the men down the hill and closer to the lake. This visual journey through the painting makes us realize that no matter how intense our personal feelings might be standing before G-d’s creation at Kiddush Levanah, it must be experienced with other Jews to whom we greet, “Shalom Aleichem!” Kogan, by skillfully shaping and selecting details from a routine monthly event, has successfully transmitted the essential truth of the communal nature of Judaism.

Transmission takes many forms; a grandmother’s family stories, the artist’s interaction with the stones and people of Jerusalem and even a chance lakeside vigil. What makes the process so intriguing is that, by its very nature, it needs to be mediated by an artist, a story- teller, someone to act as a vehicle, and thereby contains the seeds of enormous creativity.

Richard McBee is a painter of Torah subject matter and writer on Jewish Art. Please feel free to contact him with comments at www.richardmcbee.com.

About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “One Artist, Many Visions: Leonard Kogan At The Chassidic Art Institute”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States, calling for rejection of a bad nuclear deal with Iran, on March 03, 2015.
Post-Bibi Bipartisanship May Result in Congressional Ability to Review Iran Deal
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

Occasionally, a teacher will encounter a student who simply cannot be motivated to do his homework, finish his worksheet or study for a test.

Kupfer-030615

Times have changed and divorced people have sadly gone from being singularities to almost a sub-community.

Glimpses-logo-NEW

The ship’s captain apparently respected the Friedenwalds’ strict adherence to halacha because he allowed them to use his cabin for davening and other religious observances.

Bottles of wine accompany the Pesach storytelling – each glass of wine represents the four expressions used by G-d in describing the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt.

There is a point that many parenting books miss: children do more for us than we do for them.

Brigitte was a nine-year-old girl when Islamic militants launched an assault on a Lebanese military base and destroyed her home.

The husband needs to make some changes!

Purim is a fantastic time for fantasies, so I hope you won’t mind my fantasizing about how easy life would be if kids would prefer healthy cuisine over sweets. Imagine waking up to the call of “Mommy, when will my oatmeal be ready?”… As you rush to ladle out the hot unsweetened cereal, you rub […]

‘Double Gold’ awarded to 2012 Yarden Heights wine & 2011 Yarden Merlot Kela Single Vineyard.

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

One of the earliest special Purims we have on record was celebrated by the Jews of Granada and Shmuel HaNagid, the eleventh-century rav, poet, soldier and statesman, and one of the most influential Jews in Muslim Spain.

Jews, wake up! Stop educating the world and start educating yourselves.

More Articles from Richard McBee
Jerusalem to Jericho Road: photograph by Chanan Getraide
“Chanan Getraide Photographs”: 2004 exhibition at Hebrew Union College Museum

“We are living in a Golden Age of Jewish Art, but don’t know it.”

McBee-062014-Outside

He refuses to flinch from our painful history, perhaps finding a kind of solace in the consistency of irrational enmity directed against us.

“Vidduy: The Musical” breaks through the formidable barrier of repetitive confession to allow us to begin to understand what is at the heart of this fundamental religious act.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Silverstein’s work has long concerned itself with the intersection between the personal and Jewish Biblical narrative, significantly explored in this column in “Brighton Beach Bible” (July 27, 2009).

Not surprisingly the guardians of synagogue tradition is male dominated in both Moses Abraham, Cantor and Mohel and Synagogue Lamp Lighters.

Neither helpless victims nor able to escape the killer’s clutches, the leaders had to make impossible choices on a daily basis in a never-ending dance with the devil.

Bradford has opted to fully exploit the diverse possibilities of the physical surface by concentrating on the three-dimensional application of paint (impasto) and other material.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/one-artist-many-visions-leonard-kogan-at-the-chassidic-art-institute/2004/01/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: