web analytics
July 13, 2014 / 15 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim's Restaurant in Tiberias Restaurant in Tiberias Enriches Holocaust Survivors’ Wellbeing

The generosity of Mrs. Lee Steinberg of New York helped establish the Meir Panim Free Restaurant in Tiberias.



Home » Sections » Arts »

Zaslavsky’s Jews


Bar Mitzvah Video, (40 x 30) oil on canvas by Venyamin Zaslavsky. Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute

Bar Mitzvah Video, (40 x 30) oil on canvas by Venyamin Zaslavsky. Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute

Chassidic Art Institute

375 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn

718 774 9140

Until January 23, 2012

Jewish artists do the darndest things. The Chassidic Art Institute, expertly directed by Zev Markowitz, is currently showing the works of Venyamin Zaslavsky, a Ukrainian Jewish artist who has devoted the last 20 years to depictions of pious Jewish life in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Considering his own homeland, the Ukraine, and its historic prejudices, his choice of subject matter is counter-intuitive at best. And yet Jewish artists do the darndest things.

Zaslavsky was born in 1936 in Kiev, the Ukraine. After the war he attended the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and mastered the deeply conservative and academic approach to the visual arts still prevalent under the Stalinist socialist realism. As a result of his education and his innate creativity from 1967 until 1991 he was the principle artist of the Kiev Opera Theater creating costumes, sets and theater designs for more than 70 productions. Additionally he taught theater design at the Kiev Art Institute, produced numerous Ukrainian landscapes and was a member of the Ukrainian Union of Theater Arts. He was, by all accounts, a great success.

And then in 1991 he started creating paintings focused on pious Jews depicted in Israel. Perhaps the two most reviled subjects possible in his native Ukraine. And yet Zaslavsky persisted. It should be noted that the date of Zaslavsky’s artistic reawakening also coincides with the demise of the totalitarian and anti-Semitic Soviet Union and the relative freedom under the subsequent independent states. And yet this does not explain his radical shift in subject matter. Just because a subject became marginally permissible does not explain why he delved headlong into Jewish subjects. Rather, one can only assume deeply felt issues of the heart and soul demanded expression and simply could no longer be suppressed. Zaslavsky yielded to his Jewish passion and threw caution to the winds.

The current exhibition at CHAI provides a sampling of his recent work and reveals important insights into this neglected 75-year-old artist. His scenes of Jerusalem predominate with the Western Wall crowds, bar mitzvahs, colorful back alleys and side streets well represented. Over the years he has represented other parts of Israel including Safed. The defining element in almost all these works is the presence of religious Jews, usually chassidim, with children. In fact children are everywhere.

Beit Berger, (40 x 30) oil on canvas by Venyamin Zaslavsky. Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute

Beit Berger, a large Satmar chederin Jerusalem, is lovingly depicted in Zaslavsky’s painting as literally overflowing with children. A group of boys are being escorted by two teachers and a woman down the stairs and into the courtyard in front of the school while a host of their classmates watch them from the balcony above. Some of them are gesturing through the railing while others have settled down with their tiny feet sticking through the same railing. One can almost hear the cheerful din of happy children. In a major compositional motif the movement in the painting begins up in the crowded balcony, moves down the stairs and then follows still more children as they walk under the archway and back into the painting, finally moving up the steps to a waiting group of older boys. In what is practically a “portrait” of this institution, the variety of clothing and mix of different kinds of people on the street, even including a woman who is simply out shopping, is refreshing insight. And while it is almost certain that this painting, as with many others, was done from photographs, the artist has taken great care to compose all the figures into small groups that relate to one another in a well-organized organic flow.

Western Wall, oil on canvas by Venyamin Zaslavsky. Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute

The same compositional care is taken is his iconic Western Wall that shows no less than 150 people praying, visiting, coming and going throughout the Western Wall plaza. The greatest concentration of figures is predictably in the men’s section right in front of the wall. Spreading out from there across the plaza are various groupings; three chassidim clad in streimels and talleisim stride toward the entrance, two black hats in the foreground likewise approach while numerous men walk away with one, two or more children in tow, some with strollers, others escorting what seems to be a class of kids. Brightly dressed tourists observe the crowd and right in the middle we can make out a man photographing his family with the Wall as holy backdrop. And in a polite gesture to Jewish sensibilities, the artist has even removed the troublesome Dome of the Rock mosque. For all of its “realism” we can observe that the image was taken from an older photograph since it shows the old earthen ramp to the Temple Mount itself that collapsed in 2004 and was replaced with a temporary wooden structure.

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 “Zaslavsky’s Jews”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Egyptian guards at the border with the Gaza Strip following Egyptian court ban on Hamas. March 5, 2014
Arab World Hopes Israel Continues Operation and Destroys Hamas
Latest Sections Stories
Aaron in front of Gush Katif-related school history project.

He wondered what it was like to live in Israel, to be religious.

Eller-071114-Book

The Open Kitchen is so appealing you practically want to eat the pages as you turn them.

Schonfeld-logo1

In reality, Baruch is one of many children who can be described as twice-exceptional. He is both gifted and struggling with a learning disability.

Since there is no “happenstance” in our world, we can only say that something of great import is taking place in the Holy Land.

Alternatively, you can try your absolute hardest to listen whenever she says anything.

As queen of the Maghreb, Aures Damia reigned in peace and prosperity until 702.

Some yeshivish couples do not believe in going out with other couples, but that does not mean that the women cannot have social lives.

That rescued little boy is Israel’s former chief rabbi, Israel Meir Lau, now chief rabbi of Tel Aviv.

An SRO crowd recently celebrated the 22nd Anniversary Breakfast of Congregation Bais Naftoli, honoring Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell and community leader and philanthropist Ira Frankel.

Zimmer was popular with veteran teammates like Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider – and with a rookie lefthander named Sandy Koufax.

Of course it is disingenuous to tell a person from a non-rabbinic, non-rosh yeshiva home to make an effort.

Israel’s coastline may be short, but there are still some real estate pearls waiting to be realized, offering cheap alternatives for sea front living. All you have to do is go further from the boundaries of Tel-Aviv and the Dan Block.

Explosive children or those with ODD are easily frustrated, demanding and inflexible.

More Articles from Richard McBee
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.

With Without (2011) Performance, digital print by Ken Goldman
Courtesy The JCC in Manhattan

“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.

The ostensible outsider frequently has the privilege of seeing the exclusive inner sanctum with fresh and unbiased eyes. Artists’ initial encounters with the Talmud are equally blessed.

    Latest Poll

    Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Missile System:





    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/zaslavskys-jews/2012/01/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: