REVIEW BY LEADING ART CRITIC
By Irina Lazarev
First published in the SHALOM magazine, Ukraine, September 2015
Getting closer to the heights of beauty in art is always a miracle. It is the miracle of discovering new, original and precious things, not just in our environment, but also inside ourselves. The joy of such discovery is overwhelming, it touches powerfully one’s innermost being. It also acts as the drive to share these powerful impressions widely. This is exactly the complex of feelings that Divertimento, the new original art series by Michael Rogatchi, invokes.
I was lucky enough to write about this artist before. He is the one of the most talented contemporary masters, and his works adorn many leading museums and private collections world-wide, including some top celebrities’ art collections in the United Kingdom, Israel, Italy, France and the USA.
It is quite obvious to me that Michael possess a talent of celestial origin. This artist is able not just to be inspired by the music he is listening to and knows very well, but also to recreate it on his canvases, almost literally.
How on earth he is able to depict that weightless gracefulness of Chopin? How does he create on his canvases Mozart’s finest depth so palpably? I am at a lost for an explanation, but I do know that just a glance at Michael’s works provides you with an instant ‘concert’ in your mind assembled by your favourite melodies of music geniuses that you know by heart from your childhood.
Michael has told us that his “Divertimento series is a project dedicated to the enlightened memory of our dear friend Slava (Mstislav) Rostropovich. Also, one of the series’ works, Piano Concerto, is in homage to our other close and very dear friend Maestro Evgeny Kissin who had seen the work already and liked it a lot”.
The new series is presented as a whole in a musical video-essay created by Michael’s wife, Inna Rogatchi. This video is amazing, it is a small masterpiece. The music there works in complete unison with the paintings.
Inna has commented on the unique harmony of her husband’s new art work and the music she found for her art video on the series:
“I love the authentic old records. It always brings the energy of the musicians who have recorded it alive, to me. The music in this video-essay is a truly rare archive record of the famed Moscow Radio Orchestra done in the turbulent and dramatic year 1937. The orchestra is conducted by Oskar Fried, an outstanding composer and musician who had been a friend and close colleague of Gustav Mahler and the very first conductor who has made, on Mahler’s invitation, a recording of Mahler’s symphony, the Resurrection Symphony. Fried fled Nazi Germany in 1934 and settled in the Soviet Union where he died in August 1941.( When Inna Rogatchi refers to Mahler, one should remember that she is related to the great composer, she is a great-niece of Mahler’s niece Eleanore Rose – IL).
Importantly, the musicians of that very orchestra had been the outstanding ones. They were selected specifically as the plan was that the orchestra would be led by Otto Klemperer who fled Nazi Germany at the same time as Oskar Fried did. Klemperer himself also had been a close friend and colleague of both Mahler and Fried. As we know, due to a number of reasons, Klemperer did not come to the USSR, and his friend Oskar Fried was invited to lead the orchestra in the end of the 1930s.
By invoking this music to create a natural milieu for Michael’s works in his Divertimento series, all themed on classical music, we tried to revive the spirit of those people, the outstanding musicians with a tragic destiny. We wanted that people today would be hearing them alive, even if for only a little bit”.
Inna also says that anything connected with Gustav Mahler has a special connotation to her, as she is related to the great composer. Inna’s great-aunt, internationally renowned violinist Eleanore Rose was Mahler’s niece.
Inna Rogatchi’s Divertismento art video is about four minutes. In such a short time, it depicts 22 of Michael’s art works, all devoted to classical music.
Personally, due to my education, I have a peculiar art taste. It is based on realistic art, on the classical works which I know up to the smallest detail after years of repeated visits to art galleries followed by nightly examinations of thick art albums and monographs.
But Michael Rogatchi’s art is from another planet. His artistic world is a superbly fine one, fluid, and beautifully elusive. It is exquisite art and it is an unique world.
Just a few strokes in his April Melody work – and you are as if feeling both cool and sunny light touch of a spring wind on your cheek.
While watching his Nissan Rose work, you are as if hearing some special melody.
Surely, different viewers of this work are having their personal associations, originating from the work’s title which can be interpreted in so many ways. Referring to Biblical Psalms, some could think of ‘the woman who is ascending towards the sun”; others might refer to ‘her who is striving for success’. But it well may be also a reference to the Hebrew name of the spring month of Nissan which is also close to the word Nizan, a bud – as you can see it so graphically in this remarkable work.
While a melody sounds in your mind, – and Michael’s works from this series are all ‘sounding paintings’ – one can remember a beautiful line from the Song of Songs: “The flowers appear on the earth. The time of the singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.”
Several works from the series gets a viewer into the world of Mozart, the favourite composer of the artist. Michael has created his own, now trade-marked and critically acclaimed, very special image of Amadeus, back in 1991. His Amadeus is very original, interesting, but most importantly, alive one.
It is a rare treat, to see this Mozart on various works by Rogatchi. His Amadeus sparks a whole load of thoughts creating yet another, intellectual dimension of Michael’s art on music.
To ‘consume’ that famous Amadeus by Rogatchi is a rare intellectual pleasure, and it is also an invitation for one’s own intensified intellectual work.
During his intensive career, Michael has created many works featuring music and musicians, so there is little surprise that currently The Rogatchi Foundation (www.rogatchifoundation.org) and their partners are building up a big exhibition Michael Rogatchi: The World of Music. I have no doubt that the exhibition will have an overwhelming international success.
To support my confidence, some notable private art collectors who own the works by Rogatchi, are making the similar point. One of the European friends and avid collector of the artist has noted that “Michael’s art works are aspiring to a unique quality: one can literally hear music coming out of his canvases”.
One work in the series stands out for me, in particular, Family Concert. A man and a woman are featured there, both with musical instruments in their hands. Their faces are inspired ones, bows in their hands are flying. But most importantly, they seem to be inseparable, they are the whole.
I was thinking on what has made this very work so attractive to me? And I have realised that the work reminds me very much of the Rogatchis as a couple. This artistic couple is a very special ‘alloy’; those two talented people are united in between themselves in a puzzle-like motion; they are complimenting each other in a remarkable way.
Inna and Michael Rogatchi are very well known internationally not only due to their numerous creative projects, but also because of their long-standing charitable activities.
Some while ago, Michael and Inna were awarding personal stipends to the best boy and girl students of the Dnepropetrovsk Jewish Schools in Ukraine. That time, the winners happened to be David Ariel Shapiro and Racheli Rudovski.
As Racheli told us later, during the ceremony she had a glance at David and realised that it ‘had been a gift from Heaven’. A year later, Racheli and David got married. The young couple lives in Vienna, and recently, they have become parents of their first child, a girl named Chaya Mushka.
This one is quite particular, but in my understanding, it is one of the most important results of the Rogatchi couple’s charitable activities. Interestingly, they are still in touch with David and Racheli and are still supporting the young Shapiro family.
Returning to Michael’s Divertimento, the series has been completed now, and the exhibitions are planned for Florence, Italy where it has been conceived and commissioned first, as well as for New York, Austria, and possibly Israel.
Michael is still working on his World of Music, currently making a special work on canvas in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of another dear friend of the Rogatchi couple, the prolific modern composer from Lithuania Anatolius Senderovas.
The musical video-essay of the new series is available at the Rogatchi Art video-channel in YouTube.
To watch it is highly recommended. When you are seeing it, you will get still for a few minutes. You will feel yourself in another dimension. You will be frozen amidst the whirls of the merciless flow of time, and you will feel that your soul is flying high up, following the ongoing flight of the soul of the artist, Michael Rogatchi.
You will feel a fresh mighty flow of things new and beautiful which will overwhelmingly infuse your innermost being – so that you feel a strong imperative to share this new emotional knowledge, a treasure that has become
your own, with the entire world.