The cover story of the issue 3/2017-1//5778 , the Hakehila magazine of the Finnish Jewish community.  


By Ruth Jacobson

Hakehila Magazine, 3/2017 – 1/5778

Jewish World

The art collection of the Michael Rogatchi’s Biblical paintings has received a permanent home in Finland

The artistic pair of Inna and Michael Rogatchi is known world-wide due to their exceptionally wide and multi-sided activities. Besides the Inna’s work as an art photographer and artist, film maker and documentaries producer, she is also an outstanding writer, well-known journalist, scholar, historian and lecturer. Her husband Michael who started his career back in 1980s as a promising scientist in  the field of neurochemistry, has earned later  a remarkable reputation as productive, powerful and original artist whose works has been shown in more than 75 exhibitions world-wide. The Rogatchis who has moved to Finland from St Petersburg in the end of 1980s, also are living and working in Italy, and are very active in Europe, Israel and the USA.  

Michael Rogatchi’s original and masterly art, rich in colour and full of symbolism, is breathing with the Jewish spiritual heritage, continues it and develops it further on.

His artistic manner known as ‘metaphorical expressionism’ is richly expressed in many of his works portraying large world of music and arts. Among his recent important works is 15-piece Zion Waltz series of the oil paintings which has been created by the artist in the project of commemoration of  the 50th anniversary of the re-unification of Jerusalem and the 70th anniversary of the Independence of the State of Israel. The project had been initiated on the invitation of the Ministry of Culture of Israel.  

Michael’s expressive art works which can be seen as clear continuation of the Chagall tradition are to be found in many important museums, public and cultural organisations and notable private collections all around the world.  

In their multiplied activities, Inna and Michael are cherishing Jewish historical, cultural and spiritual tradition. They also are active philanthropists who are providing support, among the others, to elderly people in need, and to the cancer-children patients and their families. The Rogatchis are actively practising their international cultural philanthropy from 1989 onward. After intensive and successful work of their Arts Against Cancer international charity, their The Rogatchi Foundation has been established in 2004.

This year, on the eve of the most important dates in the annual Jewish calendar, the Jewish New Year, which is the time of charity,  in particular, Inna and Michael Rogatchi and their The Rogatchi Foundation decided to donate a special collection of ten museum-quality art replicas of the Michael Rogatchi’s emphatically expressive works from his well-known Forefather series portraying Patriarchs and Matriarchs to the Helsinki Jewish community. Inna and Michael Rogatchi has dedicated their donation to the memory of their families of Chigrinsky-Elovitch-Bujanover and Reiss-Litowsky-Rogatchi.

From the donation, the five art works depicting important Biblical heroes ( Abraham and Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron and Samson) will adore the walls of the Helsinki Jewish community’s Club premises, while another five works dedicated to the Matriarchs  and portraying Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, Rachel and Miriam will find a natural for them place at the  community’s Sara House for Elderly.

At the art donation event at the Jewish community in Helsinki on September 13, 2017, the president of The Rogatchi Foundation Inna Rogatchi had explained on why they have decided to donate to the Helsinki Jewish community namely these art works:”  We are very glad to be able to contribute to both young and elderly, to bring some of our art to the places of gathering of children and youth, and to the home for elderly people  in Helsinki. Donating to the both places at the same time aims to achieve certain harmony which is essential principle of life. The meaning of this harmony is renewed every year at the time preceding the Jewsih High Holidays. We are very glad to provide these beautiful works of art to the places where they will ‘do a good work’ and will do it for years to come”.

The original Forefathers series, the works evoking thoughts and feelings strongly, had been created by Michael Rogatchi during the period of sixteen years, between 1995 and 2010. The series had been exhibited in Israel and many European countries. “ Michael Rogatchi shares with us not only his immense talent but also the very essence of his warm, ebullient Jewish soul. In his stunning The Patriarchs and the Matriarch, he makes us to look as if into very Jewish soul itself ”, –  famous Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzki describes the nature and character of this special series.  

The artist himself comments on his art donation in the following way: “ The art reaches its purpose only if it is peaks to and with people, if it enlightens their life, provokes their thought. It works if it makes the premises of life, in a broader term, charged with the additional, art-created dimension. From that point of view, I am very glad to be able to contribute into the daily life of our friends from the Helsinki Jewish community by the presence in their premises of my art works which had been made by reflecting on the core of the Jewish values”.

The writer is the member of the Hakehila Editorial Board.