On September 9th, Michael Rogatchi and his wife Inna Rogatchi participated in a warm, interesting and important event in Helsinki, Finland, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Library of the Helsinki Jewish Community.
In commemoration of the date, the artist donated to the library a museum giclee produced in only copy of his famous Heeding the Book painting:
At very well attended event, with presence of the Israeli Ambassador and The Head of the Mission to Finland , many leading Finnish intellectuals and academics, prominent members of the Helsinki Jewish Community, and foreign guests from Sweden, Italy, the UK and Israel Michael Rogatchi donated the museum replica of his artwork to the librarian Jutta Leffkowitsch and told briefly about the history and background of this special artwork.
In his speech, the artist remembered the essential importance of a subject of a book to his family, to every Jewish family, to Jewish tradition. He enlightened the public with reflections to his family story in which reading books for gathered family, friends and guests was a nightly tradition for years. Often, the books were read aloud in the light of a candles or oil lamps, in the absence of electricity. It is significant and always unique how children’s memories are appearing in adult’s creative works many years later.
Everybody present at the special event was highly appreciative to the artist for his gesture. The donated artwork will be placed on the new wall which the Helsinki community builds for the Library.
“There is everything in this fantastic work of Art: knowledge, curiosity, enlightening, attraction to intellectual power, spirituality. There is no doubt that this painting will stay in and with Helsinki Jewish community for good, in generations” – said in appreciation Paula Hovav, a senior community member.
Opening a new activity season 2022/2023, Michael Rogatchi has successfully cooperated with The Rogachi Foundation in creation of new artistic products for the Foundation new art charitable campaign 2022/2023. Additionally to our new From Bach to Baker art calendar for 2023, The Foundation and the artist have produced two sets of charming, fine and elegant limited & exclusive edition of museum double-cards featuring the artworks from new Michael’s series:
Set 1: Sound – in – Line series, 6 horizontally-oriented double-cards, 12 x 17 cm.
As our audience is aware of, the artist and The Foundation never repeat their art products which are produced just once, and that’s why are collectible and unique.
Set 2: From Bach to Baker, 6 vertically-oriented museum double-cards, 17 x 12 cm.
All cards are coming with envelopes. Price for each set ( 6 double-cards with envelopes) – Eur 18.00Price for both sets ( or two sets) – Eur 35.00
We are shipping world-wide.
As part of The Rogatchi Foundation From Bach to Baker art charitable campaign 2022/2023, the art cards sales proceeds go to support the new TYKS Children Hospital and help with installation of the art collection which the Foundation have donated to them.
We will be happy to post the cards along with the From Bach to Baker collectible art calendar 2023 if you would like to combine or update your orders.
The orders are payable by both bank transfer and PayPal. Upon receiving your order, we will send you an invoice with banking information and PayPal link as well.
If our audience would like to consider to support The Rogatchi Foundation new art campaign and activities in 2022/2023 with a kind donation to The Rogatchi Foundation in support of the TYKS Children Hospital, we would be very grateful for that.
Opening a new season 2022/2023, The Rogatchi Foundation has created a Limited & exclusive edition of new collectible Art Calendar 2023 featuring Michael Rogatchi From Bach to Baker new art series of radiant works dedicated to music:
The works in the calendar are all new, Michael has created them this and last year, those are two of his newest art series. They were not published before. Most of the works are in private collections in Europe and Mexico.
As always, the collectible art calendar is a charitable campaign of The Rogatchi Foundation. This year, the proceeds from the art calendar will be used for support of the new TYKS children’s hospital in Turku and for helping to install a new art collection which The Rogachi Foundation have donated to them.
If our audience would like very kindly to consider some additional contribution to The Rogatchi Foundation to support this new From Bach to Baker charitable art campaign 2022-2023, based on the new artworks of Michael Rogatchi, it would be wonderful and we will be very grateful for that.
Price for this limited edition exclusive art calendar 2023 – Eur 20.00 + very modest post expenses.
Five of Michael Rogatchi’s artworks are featured at the Abstract Mind 2022 international art exhibition at the CICA Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, in South Korea.
Michael’s works at this exhibition represent the selection of new graphic works by the artist based on his well-known works of metaphorical expressionism, many of them belonging to notable European public and private art collections.
This selection can be seen in the introductory video:
According to the exhibition catalogue:
“Michael’s five works presented at the Abstract Mind 2022 exhibitions are philosophical works in which the fundamental questions of life are addressed in an artistic way: what is the origin of life? ( Origination of Life work), what is the essence of our memory? ( Memory Sketch. White on White work). How is nature reflecting on itself ( Earth Mediation work). What is the Wheel of Fortune, both literally and metaphorically ( The Wheel of Fortune work). All these four prints were made as special modern versions based on Michael’s original oil paintings with the same names.
Work Collage in Orange brings the theme of importance of colour both in life and art. This work was created in 2021 as a graphic work, and it is based on the background fragments of Michael’s well-known BOLERO composition of oil works.
The images of all these works are original and special creations of the artist, the metaphors which he originated and created both visually and as a metaphorical image and message. The powerful coloristic of the works adds to their captivating power”.
At the exhibition, 66 artworks by 33 artists are presented. Apart from Michael, five works are exhibited only by his wife Inna Rogatchi and one South Korean artist. Among those international artists, 13 of them are from South Korea, six are from the United States, with the rest are artists from Canada, Mexico, Argentina, India, Russia, Switzerland, Israel, Greece, Italy, Poland and Finland. Michael and his wife Inna Rogatchi are the only representatives of Finland at the exhibition.
CICA Museum is a well-known art institution which was established in the mid-1990s and started to operate from 2006 onward. The Museum started as the studio and gallery of the leading Korean contemporary sculptor Czong ho Kim who was studying, working and exhibiting also in New York, Los-Angeles and Geneva. From that starting point, the international dimension of the museum was started and developed. The Museum is well-known due to its numerous international projects with American, in particular, New York based museums and art institutions.
Interior of the CICA Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, South Korea. (C) Courtesy: CICA Museum.
Abstract Mind 2022 is a customary CICA Museum international multidisciplinary exhibition in which the works in various genres of contemporary art render the main theme.
Exterior of the CICA Museum complex, the Institute of Contemporary Art, South Korea. (C) Courtesy: CICA Museum.
Michael’s wife, artist Inna Rogatchi, also participates in the Abstract Mind 2022 exhibition with her works. It is another ‘joint show’ of the Rogatchi family, after their successful At the Same Time dual exhibition in Rome, Italy.
The exhibition is on display from February 23nd till March 13th, 2022.
Michael Rogatchi’s exclusive art poster have been selected by the top international jury to the Final of the celebrating Peru Design Biennial 2021 and is exhibited at the splendid Santo-Domingo Museum in Lima.
The Peru Design Biennial is the largest art Biennale in both Americas. This year, it is also celebrating event marking the 200th anniversary of Peru Independence.
The Jury for the Peru Biennial Poster exhibition was comprised of the famous professionals, including Jan Rajlich, Finn Nygaard, Niklaus Troxler, Kye-Soo Myung and the others.
The jury selected Finalists’ works from 95, 972 entries by 65, 980 artists. 465 ( 0,48%) works in ten categories by the artists from 60 countries were selected. Michael along with his wife artist Inna Rogatchi are the only artists from Finland , and the artistic couple represents its country with pleasure and joy.
Michael Rogatchi’s work presented at the art poster category is an exclusive Homage to Leonard Cohen art poster dedicated to the great musician and reflecting on the artist’s works dedicated to his dear friend.
The artwork is exhibited currently at the massive Peru Design Biennial 2021 exhibition organised at the splendid Santo-Domingo Museum in Peru’s capital Lima.
The exhibition is very well attended, with participation of the top government officials at its opening, many events organised and a lot of public showing high interest towards colourful, interesting and highly qualified exhibition.
The exhibition at the Santo-Domingo Museum and events of the Peru Design Biennial 2016 are on display from December 3 to December 15, 2021.
Essay by Inna Rogatchi – November 2021. The Essay was first published in The Times of Israel ( November 7th, 2021), followed by re-publications in Le Tribune Juive ( Paris, France), The JerUSAlem Connection Report ( Washington D.C., the USA), and the other international media.
Remembering Leonard Cohen on the 5th anniversary of his passing in the special series of artistic homages.
Inna Rogatchi (C). Postcard from the Bald Monk. Homage to Leonard Cohen. Art collage boarded on panel. 80 x 120. 2021.
“This is not silence
This is another poem” – wrote that remarkable man back in 1958, when I was still a baby, and Leonard, who was from the generation of my parents, was a young poet of twenty four, and who already then said that he ‘knows the silence’.
This man was a pride of Jews and the world: sublime talent in literature, music and painting, genuine warmth, fantastic humour, elegant modesty, rare charm, self-ironic dignity, and immense magnetism. We all were blessed by his presence at our age. I am positive that anyone who once visited Cohen’s concert left the premise becoming a bit better person. I am also positive that that was the real mission of Leonard’s earthly life: to make many of us a bit better by his own inner light, would it be via a couple of lines, or a song which would jump into your subconsciousness for good, or a drawing which is drastically different from anything you saw and is so honest intellectually that it let you to hear the artist voice speaking to you through his as if a bit naive lines.
And we personally, my husband and I, we were very blessed by Leonard’s always amazing and always warm and smiling presence in our both lives. Five years on since you cannot speak with Leonard any longer, his ring is on my husband’s desk in the most central place, just in front of Michael’s eyes, his photos with his autographs to us are in my study and in our dining room, and his books, also autographed, are everywhere, and are read often. The only thing still problematic during these five past years is Leonard’s records. To my own surprise, I still find it uneasy to listen to his records because his voice makes the missing worse.
Towards this sad anniversary, commemorating the five years since Leonard Cohen’s passing, we were asked to prepare a special presentation of our both’ art dedicated to our beloved man.
I am sharing it with a wide audience now remembering the man who ‘knew the silence’ , but who also knew in his masterhood how to ‘ring the bells’.
When Michael created his well-known Jewish Melody series, he did one of the best works in that very strong and universally admired collection as a homage to Leonard. The work Zion Waltz which is well-known today was inspired and is dedicated to Cohen. And he loved it. Michael did a special large version of the work and we sent it to Leonard to Los-Angeles. It was close to his 79th birthday. We heard from Cohen at once: “Michael, at my age, I am busy with giving my things to people. But not this one. Not this.” ( September 2013, Leonard Cohen’s letter to Michael Rogatchi. The Rogatchi Archive).
The smaller version of this drawing ( 50 x 35 cm, 2013) is still a part of our The Rogatchi Art collection. It is really hard to part with this very work.
No wonder that Michael chose dove as an artistic allusion to Leonard. Michael’s own refrain throughout the years that we knew Cohen, was always the same: “Leonard is the real Cohen, in anything he does, and how he does it. Even when he does nothing”.
And I am not surprised for a bit why Leonard who did love Michael’s art in general and appreciated it very highly, why he felt that special attachment to these doves on Michael’s artwork dedicated to him, so immediately and so firmly.
Here we go: “ I saw the dove come down, the dove with the
green twig, the childish dove out of the storm and
flood. It came towards me in the style of the Holy Spirit
descending. I had been sitting in a cafe for twenty-five
years waiting for this vision. It hovered over the great
quarrel. I surrendered to the iron laws of the moral universe which
make a boredom out of everything desired. Do not surrender,
said the dove. I have come to make a nest in your shoe. I
want your step to be light”.
And his step was light indeed. One might call it a flight.
Later on, Michael has created an emotional oil painting based on the image which has become so close to the heart of Leonard, the doves.
The work was created during the last period of Leonard’s life when he was suffering a lot and was quite fragile, but always customarily brave. Michael painted his homage to the great man full of light and warmth, emphasising that in his perception, the warmth of Leonard’s legacy has filled the world, literally. This one was most likely the last work created by Michael which Leonard saw in the course of our personal exchanges.
Michael Rogatchi(C). Zion Waltz. Oil on canvas. Homage to Leonard Cohen. 120 x 100 cm. 2016.
Leonard also knew and appreciated Michael’s earlier homage to him which was created as a result of us attending several of Leonard’s concerts in Europe in 2010 during his famous World Tour 2010. Every one of those concerts was different. It was Leonard’s life, or a serious part of his life lived on stage and generously shared with thousands, every time he performed. Seeing Leonard personally in Florence and Warsaw allowed Michael to get close to his world and the complex way of expressing it. This is how Michael’s first homage to Leonard was born. The work was created in Florence, and was part of Michael’s notable Rogatchi Blues 10-month exhibition in Florence ( 2010-2011).
Michael Rogatchi (C). Blue Sound. Homage to Leonard Cohen. Oil on canvas. 110 x 100 cm. 2010.
But there was a very special story regarding that Leonard’s concert in Florence that has marked that very concert in hearts of many people, including Leonard himself.
I never spoke about that heart-wrenching episode publicly. It was his only concert in Florence in September 2010, and it was organised at the Santa Croce Square with a double-purpose: to accommodate the maximum amount of people while staying in the historical heart of Florence, as Leonard wanted to make this one concert in the great city not in artificially for Firenze modern setting, but in an organic history-breathing centre of it. People were all over Santa Croce that night. Additionally to lucky ticket-holders, dozens of people literally were popping out every single window and balcony from all the houses around the square. It was a super feast, with these added innumerable lights from myriads of windows all around. I never saw anything like that and will remember that light filled with smiling faces from over-crowded windows and balconies forever. Everybody was very happy in that spontaneous multiplied audience. It was late in the night. The concert was supposed to start at 9 o’clock, but ran late. Still, everyone was rather cheerful under the plaids in the fresh air.
When Leonard appeared on the stage, as often, in his customary jumps and with that ever-boyish smile, the thousands of people waiting for him on the square and all around it, up to the evening skies of Firenze, were greeting him cheerfully. He smiled again and started to work, the concert started. Soon into that, some shriek was heard very loudly among the audience. And many people thought – and told each other – ‘Ah, what an exalted person! Why could she not hold her excitement until Leonard will finish his song?.. What a misbehaviour, really.’ The shrieking happened during Cohen’s second or third number during the concert, at the very beginning of it.
Then all lights around the improvised hall under the open skies went on suddenly, and the concert itself was put on hold. The announcement went on informing us that there has been a medical incident among the members of the public and an ambulance is on its way as one woman was very unwell. You need to know Italy and Italians: when it concerns somebody’s health, people are very patient. Fortunately, the hospital was very near. In the silence, with Leonard behind the scene, we all were waiting for the ambulance. People on the balconies saw the situation better. Nobody left, neither from the audience, nor from windows and balconies.
Instead of Leonard’s band playing his melodies, we all were listening to the accelerating sound of the ambulance which rushed in. We waited. Doctors rushed the patient to the hospital. The pause was substantial, up to 40 minutes. When Leonard was able to continue the concert, I saw around – nobody left, neither from the ticket-holders area, nor from the balconies and windows around. No one. When Leonard came back on the stage, in a subdued mood, understandably, people greeted him as a member of one’s family. And we were indeed the one family under the ultramarine skies of Firenze that evening when Leonard Cohen sang there. I was wondering knowing his sensitivity if he would be able to continue to perform that night which started so misfortunately. Not only he did. He did it so cordially, so intimately, so humanly that he and his organic compassion covered us all in the midst of the night which became chilly as it could be in Italy in early Autumn.
There is also Michael’s study for that oil painting, which was done by him after that memorable family-like concert at the Santa Croce. The study is unique. Michael Rogatchi (C). Study for Homage to Leonard Cohen. Pencil on cotton paper. 50 x 40 cm. 2010 Florence.
Leonard’s passing in early November 2016 was a heavy blow to us although we knew that it would be imminent. Still, it is always so incurably painful. As Leonard said himself: “And death is old,
But it is always new”.
Michael’s artistic reflection on Leonard’s passing has become his soulful artwork Full Moon Drink IV.Michael Rogatchi (C). Full Moon Drink IV. Thinking on Leonard Cohen. Indian ink, oil pastel on dark-blue Italian hand-made cotton paper. 65 x 50 cm. 2017.
My own first artistic homage to Leonard was created in 2012, with a special artwork Heart Talk. The work is picturing snow with a red leaf in the middle of it. I actually did nothing to create it. When we returned from a journey, I went to our garden and saw there that leaf on snow, very lonely, and at the same time transforming, melting the snow, making it much less frosty, especially near to the leaf. Making it bearable, in one word. And I thought immediately: “This is the portrait of Leonard. Nothing more, nothing less”. Inna Rogatchi (C). Heart Talk. Homage to Leonard Cohen. 2012. Private collection. Chicago, the US. Special Leonard Cohen Commemorative Edition. 2021.
The work was exhibited widely at many of my exhibitions of various projects, such as The Joy of Mercy, and Horizon Beyond Horizon, and became rather popular among the global fans.
Leonard was aware of this homage to him, my Horizon Beyond Horizon collection, and the video-essay which was opened by his poetry, and he did very graciously thank me for ‘fine understanding’, with that unique smile, always so personal and always so warm. How is it possible to make such a fleeting gesture of our behaviour as a smile into the legacy? – I often think, because of some few people who did manage to do it. Leonard’s smile is indeed a legacy of its own.
Later on, in connection with the second anniversary of Leonard’s passing, I created another artistic homage to him, original art panel Letter to Leonard ( 2018). We were travelling again, it was chilly and busy around. Fortunately, we had a great tree in front of our residence. That tree was almost speaking to me, day and night. Or was it I who was speaking to it?
Letter to Leonard. Homage to Leonard Cohen. Original drawing in mixed technique on authored pigment print mounted on an art panel board. 80 x 120 cm, framed under museum organic glass, size in frame 84 x 124. 2018-2021.
For the first time, the artwork was presented as an illustration in my essay Way Out of the Maze of Longing dedicated to the second anniversary of Leonard’s passing. Later on, I produced a large original Letter to Leonard art panel.
The third of my personal artistic homages to Leonard is a recent work, and it has been created for commemoration of the 5th anniversary of Leonard’s passing. The works refers to Leonard’s famous Anthem song from his Future album ( 1992), the song which has become one of the Leonard’s most popular ones, because of the line which has become a motto for millions,
There is is crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in. Inna Rogatchi (C). Homage to LCohen. Caran d’Ache Neopastel, encre l’alcool on authored pigment print on cotton paper mounted on board. 80 x 120 cm. 2021.
As we all know, these lines have been overused, possibly. But at the same time, it is so true. So very true. Dear, dear Leonard, he knew it – and so many other essential things – so well. He formed it so eloquently, so beautifully. In that very best possible understated way which gets to you immediately, straight to the heart, no questions asked. And stay there. As it is seen from my fourth artistic dedication to the great and unique man in my new Postcard from the Bald Monk work completed recently. Bald Monk was Leonard’s name in his private email address. I still have it in my email system. How on earth can I delete it?.. It makes me smile every time I came across it. And I hope his spirit smiles as well in its gentle hovering over us here.
Reminiscence on the first yahrzeit of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Essay by Inna Rogatchi. First published at The Times of Israel, October 25, 2021. Also published in The Algemeiner ( New York, the USA), The JerUSAlem Connection ( Washington D.C., the USA), Le Tribune Juive ( Paris, France), and the other international media.
Reminiscence on the first yahrzeit of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Chesvan 20th, 5781, the last year, was on Shabbat. In the secular calendar, it was November 7th, 2020. On Motzei Shabbat, in that special Shabbat-blessed mood being both relaxed and uplifted, we turned on our devices. And got the shock. In our Inboxes, there was the news of Rabbi Sacks’ passing. Totally, completely incomprehensible news. The shock was so powerful that we remember that Motzei Shabbat evening a year ago in such graphic detail as it had happened not even yesterday but just today.
Such a shock occur rarely in one’s life. It was like seeing a picture of a nuclear test on a screen: irreversible and quiet. Only it was not a test. Top articles on The Times of IsraelRead More
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Of course, we knew about Jonathan’s illness. We asked our friends for prayers for him literally three weeks before that devastating news appeared on our screens on November 7th, 2020. And we knew that it was not the first attack of that merciless illness on him. We just were not prepared for such an abrupt end. Inna Rogatchi (C). Portrait in Light II. Windy Pictures series. 2020.
My husband Michael, who has a sober and strong mind of a scientist which was his first profession before he turned to be an artist, was in complete denial on the idea of Jonathan’s passing. I never saw anything like that in my husband’s behaviour during many decades of our life. Michael loves Rabbi Sacks dearly and deeply. He could not come to terms with that fact for a very long time.
And I was gasping for air, both literally and metaphorically, and was thinking , being terrified, of Rabbi Sacks’ family, his wife, lady Elaine, children, brother, grandchildren, close friends who are at the same time close friends of ours. That whirl of disbelief was overwhelming. My first tribute in memoriam to Jonathan was born that night.Inna Rogatchi (C). Wind in Yellow. Homage to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Windy Pictures series. 2020.
We closely followed all the stages after that terrible loss of a unique man . We were co-living every stage of our all’ physical departing with Rabbi Sacks during this first year. Michael spent the Jewish year 5781-5782 circle reading all five books of Rabbi Sacks’s elegant commentaries to the Torah weekly, with increasing love and attachment. I wrote about our constant return to thoughts about Jonatan during that first year of his permanent physical absence in my Yom Kippur essay this year.
And we salute all the noble and loving efforts made by his family, friends, colleagues, pupils and followers of Rabbi Sacks to keep his legacy alive.
During that year, I was thinking about Jonathan very often. What was the factor, the substance, the actions that has made that very person so universally beloved? In another Jewish miracle, I have got the answer to my standing question on the Shabbat that preceded the date of the first yahrzeit of that rare human pearl of our time. It was not a factor, not a substance, not an action, or many of them. ADVERTISEMENT
It was a quality. One particular quality that was distinct in Rabbi Sacks and that made people love him instantly and for good. That quality was grace.
One cannot be trained to be graceful. One cannot learn how to be graceful. One cannot pretend to be graceful, nor can one mimic grace. Grace is a gift, and we know from Whom. It was the grace that made Rabbi Sacks’ speeches to get to peoples’ hearts directly. It was the grace that stayed in his eyes, in his smile, in his genuine attentiveness towards the people who all did feel that unmistakable, from His Royal Highness to the children in the Israeli hospitals.
You can fake politeness, you can pretend attentiveness, you can mimic charm. You cannot make grace up. And Jonathan was gifted with grace which shined in anything he did, in the way he lived, in the words he wrote, taught, and addressed.
Genuine gratefulness is a very rare quality in our all lives, Jewish or not. But an organic Jewish gracefulness makes an indelible impact on people’s lives for good. ADVERTISEMENTMichael Rogatchi (C). Zion Waltz. Fragment. Indian ink, oil pastel on dark-blue hand-made Italian cotton paper. 50 x 35 cm. Leonard Cohen Family collection, Los Angeles, the USA.
A year on, we are entering the mark of the first yahrzeit of our great contemporary, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Just prior to this date, a special volume of his writings and speeches, The Power of Ideas, was published thanks to the devoted efforts of his colleagues at The Rabbi Sacks Legacy Trust.
The reading of Jonathan’s thoughts during the last twenty years, from 2000 onward, seemed to me to be the most appropriate thing to do during these reflective days. All of the sudden, one of Rabbi Sacks’ short reminiscences from his very well-known Thought for the Day two and half-minute appearances on the BBC radio during thirty years, transferred me to another dimension.
The name of that page-and-a-half reminiscence is Love. And it is so special that I was tempted to type it in its entirety and to share it as widely as I possibly could.
Some phrases of this graceful text got me chilled. “But this year I’ve been unusually conscious of the joy that comes through love” ,- said Jonathan in his appearance on the BBC Radio 4 on February 14th, 2020, the last year, addressing his astounding in its openness thoughts on love on the Valentine Day which is not celebrated in the Jewish tradition, as he pointed there promptly in the beginning of his addressing.
‘This year’, he said. The reason was that in the summer of 2020, Rabbi Sacks and his wife, lady Elaine, the one of the most charming and nice women I’ve met, were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. He managed to celebrate it with his beloved, just a couple of months before his passing. That kind of love can really make a miracle and keep a person up beyond the bonds of medically possible. Michael Rogatchi (C). Chuppah Memories. Pencil on white cotton paper. 15 x 20 cm. 2017. The Rogatchi Art Collection.
A year after that both deeply emotional and highly dignified celebration of their Golden Wedding anniversary, on August 31st this year, 2021, Lady Elaine was speaking, bravely, elegantly, and graciously at her husband’s matseva, stone-setting ceremony. In her speech, she was mentioning that special wedding anniversary which they managed to celebrate with their family. She also pointed to the mercy of the quickness of Rabbi Jonathan’s departure, the quickness which relieved him of prolonged torment of the nasty illness.
And then, lady Elaine shared a very private thing in anybody’s life. Mentioning that Rabbi Jonathan has left our world in the early hours of Shabbat ( which always is a mark of a special bond between a person and the Creator), she said: “Jonathan’s last words were “Good Shabbos!” to a very kind doctor. Who can ask for more?..”
Indeed. And that Love reminiscence which Rabbi Sacks decided to go on air with on the Valentine Day the last year of his life, with its unprecedentedly open and disarmingly touching sharing of the nucleus of their both’ fifty years of life, is staying in my head now together with lady Elaine’s brave and generous sharing the last moments of the life of her beloved. Of the man and the Rabbi who meant and means so much for millions of people world-wide. Michael Rogatchi (C). Heart Dance. Indian ink, oil pastel on red Italian hand-made cotton paper. 36 x 25 cm. Soul Talk collection. 2018. The Rogatchi Art Collection.
Recently, another great Jewish British personality, playwright Tom Stoppard was speaking at the joint memorial service for the late John le Carre and his wife who died within a few months of each other. There Stoppard’s expressed the following thought: Often, we are thinking that with our friends passing, they are left in the past while we are continuing to live. In fact, it is on the contrary: our friends, after their passing, are as if crystallised in our conscience. Their essence is getting closer and more tangible for us on a daily basis, while we, still living, are left – in our conscience – in the past, with our friends there. In the time when they were alive and we were together.
I cannot formulate it better. Stoppard is a profound thinker and a great writer. He is also a great Jew, even though he decided to let it be known to the world when he was 83, just last year, with his great Leopoldtstadt play about which I wrote a special essay at the time.
What is almost unbelievable is that Stoppard’s great, most important in his long, quite significant career Leopoldstadt play which I called Tom Stoppard’s Kaddish, was premiered in London practically at the same time when Rabbi Sacks did come public with his Love story on the BBC radio 4 largely popular program, in the first half of February 2020. I do not believe in this kind of coincidences.
Tom Stoppard is a great British Jew, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks was. With their torments of any sort kept inside decisively. With their brilliant minds engaging millions effortlessly. With tightly guarded elegant privacy, which allows those precious sharing of their innermost feelings extremely rarely, under truly extraordinary circumstances of their lives.
This was the case with Stoppard, with him writing his Leopoldstadt and getting the performance public in early February 2020, and also recently, in the way he said farewell to a dear friend. This was the case with Rabbi Sacks when he did share his love to his wife with the world , at the same time last year. The year which made him ‘unusually conscious’ with regard to the most personal, most treasured, most important for him thing. The last year of his just seventy-two-year long life.
Thinking the whole past year of this tremendous loss, my husband and I completely agree with Tom Stoppard’s paradoxical reflection. We remember those precious moments we were blessed with to spend with Rabbi Sacks and his wonderful wife Elaine, we remember many of his always warm appearances. We remember the reactions of people around him, with their eyes shining while they were listening and speaking with Jonathan. We remember his inputs, his stands and interventions, brave, necessary, to the point. We remember it all as if it is happening now. We indeed feel ourselves there, with him, next to him.
And then we realise that we all in so many places of the world are going to commemorate his first yahrzeit on Chesvan 20th, 5782 , and that still is hard to comprehend in full.
Such is the strength of the people who were gifted with grace which not only made their presence magnetic and benevolent during their life-time, but which still keeps the thoughts about them enlightened and memories of them tangible ever after.
Such is the legacy of graceful Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.
Inna Rogatchi’s Ushpitzim In Art: Modern Look: Michael Rogatchi Art & Aesthetic of a Modern-Day Spirituality essay featuring Michael Rogatchi’s Ushpizim art series has been published at The Times of Israel, the Tribune Juive, and The JerUSAlem Connection Report in September 2021.
The essay in full can be read on this site in the Reviews pages, here .
Michael Rogatchi Art & Aesthetic of a Modern-Day Spirituality
The essay was published at The Times of Israel, Tribune Juive ( Paris, France), and The JerUSAlem Connection Report ( Washington DC, the US).
Michael Rogatchi’s now widely known Forefathers works have originated as his Uzhpitzim series, personalised images of Jewish patriarchs and the formatting leaders of the nation.Michael Rogatchi (C). Ushpitzim series. 1999-2020. Exclusive Art Poster: Inna Rogatchi (C).
Each of those modern classic images has its own history, and they were not created by the artist in a chronological order.
The first appeared Moses, in a rare phenomenon of a subconscious art, or actually communication which Michael was blessed to receive and which he was extremely lucky to read. Back in the end of the 1990s, Michael saw his Moshe Rabbeinu in his dream, exactly as he had depicted him in his great painting: live, questing, having his thoughts and doubts, living through many torments, but determined, strong, unique Jewish man from whom we all are receiving a bit of our enduring National strength, the yeast of our ongoing national, and often personal, survival.Michael Rogatchi (C). MOSES. Oil on canvas. 64 x 60 cm. 1999.
“In that dream , back in 1999, I saw Moshe Rabbeinu in such detail that it is engraved in my memory for good. I also saw the Hebrew letters as if made of fire, which were jumping off and up, from the Tablets”, Michael remembers.
As an artist, he had nothing more to do than to paint everything he saw, and he did it both devotedly and masterly. His Moses, the first personage from his Ushpitzim series and his Forefathers project , started his existence as the object of art preceding the artist’s concept of the Ushpitzim.
This Moses is eternal, to me. He is first and foremost tormented, questing man, he is alive. And here, in this intellectual honesty of an artist, lies the essence of Michael’s creative power and his vision with regard to spiritual art. He does not beautify his and our nation’s heroes. He loves them and sees them also in their torment.
Spiritual art is a very tricky thing to do. An artist has so many visible and invisible hurdles in front of him in that department of arts. He should avoid kitsch and he should turn away from cliches and banalities. He is fighting a very powerful presence of the existing gallery of images.
In order to qualify as an artist, he should create something original , new and interesting , still bearing in mind a huge responsibility of interacting with reverend figures and legendary personalities. It is an extremely difficult task . Being an artist myself, I know that I , of many, simply would not dare to embark on such a direction of my work.
But my husband did, luckily for many of us, because he was able to create not just other portraits of eternal personalities, but he did it in a modern style which aesthetically responds to our perception of life today. He also filled his Ushpitzim works with a breath of life, vitally so. These Ushpitzim created today, in our time, between 1999 and 2020, are speaking to us effortlessly. They have a lot to say, and incredibly, they communicate with us in the language and the way which is natural and congenial to us. This essential quality which makes Michael’s Ushpitzim so special , I found simply amazing.
Not surprisingly, after creating Moses Michael started to think on creating the Patriarchs. That period of intense work when he created stunning images of Abraham and Isaac in a double portrait of Akedah ( 2001) followed by the great portrait of Jacob ( 2004) marked the completion of what Michael thought at the time as his Patriarchs series.
Michael’s Akedah is a timeless work of art. I do not know how he did dare to start to work on probably the most exploited plot in the history of art. Again, I would not dare to get into that territory, both so well known and so completely occupied. But he did – having his deep personal understanding, and I would say bond with Abraham and Isaac in general and at that pivotal moment of faith. Looking back, it would be fair to say that Akedah is the episode in the Torah about which we both were thinking probably the most and the longest. How can one really understand – meaning to accept unacceptable – Akedah? The mental process took years, and the same was probably with Michael’s inner artist’s work on his reading , his concept of perception of Akedah and its visualisation. Michael Rogatchi. Akedah. Abraham and Isaac. Oil on canvas. 84 x 78 cm. 2001.
In Michael’s concept of Akedah, a father-con unity is predominant, and visually, it is achieved by one of the most striking images in the contemporary Biblical art. More about this work can be read here.
Several years after creating his own images of Abraham and Isaac, Michael was ready to create Jacob ( 2004). At that moment, the artist was still thinking that he was working on a small Patriarchs series. Michael’s Jacob is thoughtful, introvert-like, reflective – and with a good reason.Michael Rogatchi (C). Jacob. Oil on canvas. 82 x 89 cm. 2004.
“As I can see it, being sent from his parents’ home abruptly, due to an emergency situation, and without a possibility to come back and to seeing his beloved parents ever since, Jacob was missing them greatly. I think he was thinking about his home, his parents, his life non-stop, at every stage of his extraordinarily dramatic life” – says the artist. And his last patriarch is an elegiac man who is thinking, remembering, reflecting non-stop. As Jacob did. How to visualise it and to present it to a modern day audience in the way that it would be accepted naturally? To me, this combination of sleek modern form, warm coloristic resolution, and fine thoughtful expression of the patriarch Jacob’s face in Michael’s fine portrait of him, resolves the goal: to visualise eternity in a modern and engaging way.
Chronologically, Michael’s large portrait of King David appeared shortly before he finished his Patriarchs mini-series with completion of the portrait of Patriarch Jacob.
Dealing with the pillars of Judaism , Michael worked very devotedly on the image of King David who is his favourite personality among our leaders along with Moshe Rabbeinu. The story of that very peculiar work created in 2003 is special and it will be told at the time.
Interestingly enough, Michael created his other King David , the image for his Ushpitzim, many years later, only in 2020. It is somehow special that he started what is now his complete Ushpitzim from his absolutely beloved Moshe Rabbeinu in 1999, and he completed the series with the image of his other beloved Jewish hero King David in 2020, spanning the work on the Ushpitzim for two decades.
Moses’s brother Aaron , the pillar of our Jewish faith, whom we both love deeply , appeared in Michael’s series as soon as he realised and decided to create the visual gallery of all seven Uzhpitzim in their modern-day perception. From this point of view, it would be correct to mention that Aaron ( 2009) was Michael’s first decisively Ushpitzim in the series .Michael Rogatchi (C). AARON. Oil on canvas. 76 x 74 cm. 2009.
That Aaron is wonderful. Everyone who saw the work, fell in love with the person portrayed there – and it is the best in the Cohens, isn’t it? The best of them are elegant, bright, with an extra-dimension of creativity of mind and stern resilience in the most daring circumstances. As a daughter and granddaughter of Cohens, I know what I am talking about, first-hand.
But in the case of Aaron, our first Cohen and the first Cohen Gadol, he was supremely understanding. He was warm. He is superbly human. He infused into our people the best quality of applied humanism – does not matter what. And this Aaron looks at us from Michael’s amazing portrait of him created in 2009, projecting this eternal light onto anyone who ever saw that painting.
When, with completion of Aaron, Michael finally realised that instead of the Patriarchs mini-series, he is actually working on a full-scale Ushpitzim, his next work was Joseph, our both’ beloved son of Jacob, the most tragic and at the same time the most brilliant character in the entire Biblical narrative, as we can see it. This dualism of tragedy and brilliance exemplified in Joseph actually applies to Jewish psychological archetypes in general. Was Joseph a protagonist of our dualistic character when drama wraps talent, and brilliance shines even in our tears? Quite possibly so. Michael Rogatchi (C). JOSEPH. Oil on canvas. 100 x 80 cm. 2009.
Michael’s Joseph shines, but not effortlessly. His shine is due to his golden wise heart and it comes despite anything he came to live through and overcome, Quand Meme as they say about the motto in France. But it is Joseph’s shine that did help everyone around him, his family, our people, and everyone to whom he did not hesitate to help. The brilliance of conviction, and the conviction in good and light is the engine of our Jewish history and is the secret of our astonishing survival. All this is transparent in Michael’s portrait of Joseph.
Twenty years after he started to work on the leaders of the Jewish nation, Michael finally created the seventh Ushpitzim, his lyrical King David ( 2020). In contrast to the five preceding Ushpitzhim ( except Isaac who was young enough at the time of Akedah) who are all wise men in a mature age, his King David is emphatically young – and youthful, in heart, acting and inspiration. Michael Rogatchi (C). King David’s Shofar. Indian Ink, oil pastel on Italian hand-made cotton paper. 40 x 60 cm. 2020.
This work is titled as King David’s Shofar, and this shofar is the shofar of Jewish people. Everything in this work is uplifting: its young protagonist, his movement, the inspiration his sounding shofar brings, the coloristic resolution, even the medium which is very fine and light.
It is quite interesting to observe this evolution in the artist’s line of Ushpizim created in twenty years’ path: from thoughtful, reflecting, dramatic Moses, Abraham, and Jacob through enlightening and warming Aaron and Joseph to youthful, aspiring and inspiring King David in his youth. It is obvious that this evolution also reflects the inner world of the artist. And his works are very interesting, deep, living testimony of the way of Jewish person in the world of arts, culture, history, morality and humanity which all speak to us from the works of real art and which a lot of work and inner effort makes art soulful.