Review by Michael Tuzhikov, The Latvian Times, Riga, August 2004

If one can define architecture as a music standing still in stone, the artworks by Michael Rogatchi should be defined as philosophy that has materialised on canvas. Importantly, Michael’s philosophy is of a special kind. I read it as a wisdom based on priorities of love, kindness and warmth. 

The artist does not impose his world-view, but is pondering about life together with his audience, shares with us his contemplations, invites us to the dialogue. His works causes one’s soul to awake and to become in awe. It evokes one’s own analogues  – which means that the artist did reach the highest possible goal by inducing his own soul of creator with souls of his audience to be in parallel. When we are looking on Michael’s canvases, our souls are getting to the same emotional phase as the soul of the artist. This is extremely rare phenomenon in contemporary art which is predominantly cold. 

The more of his own soul an artist has put in his creation, the more of emotional charge will get his viewer. In the case of Michael Rogatchi, this special artist did succeed in creation of original in its design intellectual system in which reverse connection is permanently on, and where an eyes is a dominant, would it be the eyes of his viewers, of his own, of a child, of a woman, of an elderly man, of a horse, of a bull, or of a torero. 

And this is not an accidental phenomenon. Eyes is the continuation of our brain, it is a generator of the warmth of our souls. Eyes are observing the world around us, eyes are searching inside ourselves in an introvert motion,  eyes which are looking towards viewers, and getting inside viewers. Observing Michael’s works, in the end, one realises that those eyes on his works reflecting something which is around you all the time, but for some reason, you are fixing it in your consciousness. It does not because your eye is altered by the life’s routine, as a rule. 

I always thought that the mysterious Gioconda by Leonardo looks on you with a kind of smirk, plus there is that cold glass around it in the Louvre – as the result, I for one is feeling myself a grain of sand facing eternity. In a contrast, personages on Michael Rogatchi’s canvases are speaking to us, they live their emotional lives together with us. We have a direct emotional contact with them. They are close to us. They are attracting us, enormously attracting. You would like to speak with them. It is a rare sensation in front of painting when you feel the people on them as so close and interesting to you.

Portrait with Rain. The Artist’s Wife. Oil on canvas. 90 x 66 cm. 2000. The Rogatchi Art Collection.

Portrait with Rain is striking in its emotional openness. The work has a physical magnetic effect. It is hypnotic, too. It makes your own soul to respond. These huge, beautiful, all-understanding eyes which has accumulated many centuries of wisdom and suffering of ancient people, these eyes are filled with bipolar charge of amalgamated joy and sadness. Incredibly, that ecumenical, if I may, sadness does not fences the other feelings and emotions, but to the contrary, it illuminates hope, striving towards light, warmth and love. That so very fine just a hint of a smile on this work is filled with super-powerful shut of kindness and tangible belief in highest fairness. This all charges us, viewers, with a great ‘injection’ of optimism. It is felt as unbelievable, unexpected Gift. Spiritualised face of the artist’s Wife is the best possible illustration and proof of two ancient Greece terms, phileo and sophia, I love, and wisdom. Together, those two terms produce philosophia, philosophy in its authentic meaning. 

The theme of philosophy in art is continued in this exhibition in the very interesting work called The Wheel of Fortune. The very title of the work immediately sets one for a gaming associations: luck – or no, roulette, astrological predisposition, mystery all around. There are various interpretations of the Wheel of Fortune throughout history of art. For Michael Rogatchi, it is confirmation of materiality of a thought. If a weightless, illusory little feather produces a shadow, it means that it is material, real, and in fact it pictures the process of transformation of formulated thoughts  into tangible reality. I was thinking that this work has a lot in common with known quote from an Indian sages: “we are calling a destiny a substance which reflects unseen qualities of people”. 

Michael’s philosophical refections on the horrors of war are deeply and essentially human, as paradoxically, as it gets. To explain my thought: we know famous work by Vassily Vereshagin, War’s Apotheosis, with its dreadful mountain of skulls in the middle of merciless desert. This is really dreadful symbol of a war, created in 1981, is the end, abyss, an ultimate dead-lock.  Vereszhagin wrote on the frame of his painting: “To all great conquers, former, present, and future ones’. His idea did not work, and did not prevent any of the horrors of revolutions, genocides, or Holocaust. 

Michael Rogatchi found the other solution. Final Solution. On that great painting, there is a hat and there is a glasses, the end of everything – but at the same time, ongoing memory about everything. This work calls to think and to remember, not to shudder because of overwhelming horror, neither to seize a weapon being overwhelmed by desire of revenge. But there is more meaning in that work, in my view: one cannot kill human thought and human memory.

Final Solution. Oil on canvas. 90 x 60 cm. 2003.

We can discuss every single work by Michael endlessly, these are the paintings which are providing more and more thoughts and nuances, full of rich hidden meaning. Remarkably, in all of Michael Rogatchi’s canvases there is a powerful philosophical ‘base’, the pillars of every work which are saturated with wisdom, kindness, warmth and love.  There is no coincidence in the title of that unique exhibition. Michael Rogatchi has shared with us his Dream, Memory, Love and enriched us in a great way.