OPENING NOTE & ART PAPER ON MICHAEL ROGATCHI’s JEWISH MELODY EXHIBITION BY DISTINGUISHED EXPERT
By Professor Habil. ALGIRDAS GAIZUKAS
The exhibition of Michael Rogatchi’s new art series Jewish Melody had been shown to the public for the first time in Vilnius at the time and as a part of the IV World Litvak Congress. At this forum, several generations of both Jewish and Lithuanian people have been discussing a number of important matters, including the ways of preservation the historical memory, the most adequate methods of evaluation of the dramatic and tragic historical events; also, how to transform the experience and understanding of the past into realities better corresponding to more developed and better realised humanity, for preservation and prevailing both peace and light in our life and the life of the future generations.
The contribution of Litvaks into the European and the world culture is extremely significant, and I would like to stress that significance once again. The names of many culture figures, artists, scientists and teachers has become indispensable from what it is known as the Golden Treasury of the world culture. Whoever should be named from that dignified legion, would it be Marc Chagall, Jacque Lipschiz, Lev Karsavin, Jasha Heifetz, Romain Gary and many others – it would be impossible to imagine the artistic and spiritual world of all of us without their presence and contribution into that.
And we, the Lithuanian intellectuals, understand it very well. Last year, the seminar dedicated to the Holocaust was held in Vilnius. It was organised and supervised by the USA embassy and the other partnering organisations. Representatives from the Lithuanian University of Education Sciences (where I am the principal at) took part in the seminar, and benefited from it substantially. Afterword, they were able to cover the scope of the issues evoked by the Holocaust better and deeper. They have become more perceptive to the acts of de-humanisation of a personality. They were able to put their questions forward and to see it in the context within better knowledge of the weaknesses of the foundation of humanism.
Tonight we are enjoying the opportunity to get acquainted with the new creation of a prominent artist Michael Rogatchi. His biography, in a way similar to many other notable artists and cultural figures, had been affected by dramatic events and challenges of his time: deportation of his parents and family, realities under the Stalinism, pawns of the totalitarian regime on human liberty and freedom of creation, and other phenomena of the sort. An interesting detail in the biography of Michael Rogatchi is that after graduating from the university in natural sciences, namely biochemistry, he has become an artist eventually, with his distinctive style and original touch.
The exhibition which is opened today consists of the series of works under the Jewish Melody name. This impressive series is dedicated to the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilnius Ghetto. Michael Rogatchi’s works have been on exhibit in numerous galleries and museums of the world and have gained a considerable attention from the side of both of art critics and art admirers. The works are completed in mixed technique.
I am thinking on the Marc Chagall’s works with the motif of a man playing violin, and that man as if gliding with his violin’s melody between the Earth and the Sky. This motif is met in Michael Rogatchi’s new series not for once. But in Michael Rogatchi’s version of a playing musician we also can see the image of a man playing on many instruments: additionally to a violin, it is also accordion, trumpet, cello, clarinet, saxophone, and guitar. And in Michael’s series, Jewish, mysterious, sorrowful and joyful, full of life melody is as if winding between the Chaos and Cosmos.
Chaos is symbolised in the Michael’s series by full, ultimate darkness of the deep-blue plates of the cotton paper. The Cosmos appears in those many colourful circles and their completeness. And this Jewish Melody – may it be a nocturne or Yiddish tango, love song, grandmother’s lullaby or dance medley – by going through the artist’s imagination, acquires another, elevated or, I’d say, even cosmic meaning.
In this series of works by Michael Rogatchi, there are no realistic pain, drama or suffering images, – possibly just a fine hints of those. Jewish Melody is lifted up here and is fused with the very essence of the human existence.
Michael Rogatchi is speaking in the language of symbols and metaphors which is spacious and generalised in the best way, broad-brushed in his works. The body and instrument of the Playing Man in the Rogatchi’s imagination are fused into the one wholeness; and this new artistic reality is becoming the melody itself, the body and the soul of the Melody created by the artist.
It becomes the melody which is full of light; the melody played by an exalted man; the melody which leads a man towards his cosmic destination. This is the melody of the limitless life itself.
Clearly, the works of this series could be interpreted in a different and its own way by various viewers. The understanding and feeling of an artistic work, the grasp of its meaning, perception of its beauty and aesthetic value is quite individual matter, and it is largely results out of one’s education, character, experience, cultural outlook and other constituents. A painting or a graphic plate ought to ‘speak up’, and that requires a viewers’ focused spiritual efforts, the efforts produced by the inner world of an each spectator.
I would like to express my deep gratitude to Michael Rogatchi for this both intellectual and aesthetic exposition in his art work. In our Post-Modern time, I feel as this kind of art is much needed.
This art certainly lifts up and maintains human values at the time when many of it has been rumpled and has become devalued.
This art speaks to hearts and minds in re-assuring way at the time when the things which are really prominent has been made relative. I do wish to this talented artist many new creative conceptions and inexhaustible inspiration, as well as memorable stay in Vilnius.
Prof. Habil. ALGIRDAS GAIZUTIS
Lithuanian University for Education Sciences