Michael Rogatchi’s Artwork is exhibited at the Peru Design Biennial in Lima

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. 

Michael Rogatchi (C). Homage to Leonard Cohen. Exclusive art poster. 100 x 70 cm. 2021.

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.

Fine Arts: “There is not silence. This is another poem”. Michael Rogatchi Art in Modern Homage Art

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).

Michael Rogatchi ©. Zion Waltz. Homage to Leonard Cohen. Special version. Original drawing in mixed technique. 65 x 50 cm. 2013. Leonard Cohen estate. Canada.

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. 

November 2021

The Grace of Love

Michael Rogatchi’s Art in Modern Spirituality

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. 

Inna Rogatchi (C). Poem 40. Poems collection. 2020.

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. 

October 24, 2021. 

Essay About Michael Rogatchi’s Ushpizim series published in Israel, France and the USA

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.

Michael Rogatchi (C). David’s Shofar. 2020.

The essay in full can be read on this site in the Reviews pages, here .

Ushpizim in Art: Modern Look

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. 

Michael Rogatchi’s Homages to Leonard Cohen exclusive art poster to participate at the Peru Design Biennale 2021

Michael Rogatchi’s Homages to Leonard Cohen exclusive art poster will participate at the Peru Design Biennale 2021, the largest design Biennale in the both of Americas. The Biennale 2021 commemorates the 200th anniversary of Peru’s Independence and is organised under the auspices of the UN and its cultural programs. 

Michael’s exclusive art poster was selected by a top international jury from almost 13 000 artworks presented. 

Homages to Leonard Cohen represents several original artworks of the artist created in different time, from 2004 through 2017, and in different techniques, oil paintings and works on paper, all dedicated to the great Leonard Cohen whom the artist knew personally. 

Among the five works depicted in the exclusive art poster ( 120 x 70 cm, 2021), one work belongs to Leonard Cohen private collection. After the musician’s passing, it is still in his estate and is with the family. The other work was created by Michael as a result  of him visiting Leonard Cohen’s concert in Florence back in 2010, the work was known to Leonard. One more  work was created by the artist as his personal reflection on the great man’s passing.  

Michael’s work will represent Finland at this largest in Americas Design Biennale to be organised in Lima in November – December 2021. 

Michael Rogatchi’s metaphorical expressionist works at ‘I’ exhibition in South Korea

Five works by Michael Rogatchi will be exhibited at ‘I’ exhibition at the top CICA Museum in South Korea in April 2022. 

The exhibition will explore the visualisation of ‘I’ concept from different angles, views and techniques. Michael Rogatchi’s works were invited by the leadership of the CICA museum and curators of this interesting conceptual exhibition due to their impressiveness, originality of concept and imagery, deep and human  metaphors, and mastery of the artist’s craft. 

Michael Rogatchi selected to show at this exhibition the works  created throughout his artistic career, from Cognition, the one of his first oil paintings, to the new version of his well-known Yesterday rendition. The works represent Michael’s various series and collections, such as his portfolio of metaphorical works ( Cognition, Clean Page), Daily Miracles collection ( Childhood), as well as his works dedicated to music and its artistic visual interpretation ( Yesterday, and Breakthrough from the artist’s famed Libertango. Homage to Piazzolla series). 

CICA Museum is one of the top international art museums, with its own concept, high professionalism , and dynamic interest in contemporary art. 

The ‘I’ exhibition at CICA Museum will take place in April 6-24, 2022.

Michael Rogatchi to participate in the Abstract Mind 2022 international art exhibition in South Korea

Michael Rogatchi’s artworks to be shown at the Abstract Mind 2022 international exhibition at the CICA Museum in South Korea.

Michael Rogatchi will participate in the Abstract Mind 2022 international art exhibition at the CICA Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, in South Korea. 

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.  

To participate in this exhibition, Michael undertook his artistic analysis and examination of his previous works,  such as his well-known The Wheel of Fortune or Origination of Life works, as well as created new works for this exhibition specifically, such as Collage in Orange or new version of White on White, Memoir Sketch work. Five of Michael’s artworks will be present at the exhibition at the CICA Museum in South Korea. 

Exterior of the CICA Museum complex, the Institute of Contemporary Art, South Korea. (C) Courtesy: CICA Museum.

 Michael’s wife, artist  Inna Rogatchi,  also will be participating in the Abstract Mind 2022 exhibition with his works. It will be another international ‘joint show’ of the Rogatchi family, after their successful At the Same Time dual exhibition in Rome, Italy. 

The exhibition will take place from February 23d  till March 13th, 2022. 

The Feeling of Jerusalem : Artistic Perspective

Jerusalem in the works of Michael and Inna Rogatchi

First published in The Times of Israel – https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-feeling-of-jerusalem-artistic-perspective/, as well as in Tribune Juive ( Paris, France) and The Jerusalem Connection Report ( Washington, D.C., the USA)

When examining the stones of Jerusalem, one can get as close as it gets, to the real understanding of what the Lurianic teaching means when it says that stones have their own soul, too. Stones accumulate the energy of people and their emotions throughout the time. This energy does not disappear. It stays in stones. And never deeper than in the stones of Jerusalem.

In the Temple Tunnel, there is one particular, very special place, archeological sensation. I never saw anything like it in the world. In the same hall called as Hall of Epochs by the Temple Heritage Foundation, there are physical stones, architectural details, and artefacts from five epochs: the floor and from the period of the First Temple, the stones from the Second Temple period; a column and pillars from the Hellenistic time; the arches from the Hasmonean period; and corridors from the Roman  rule time, – all of it in the same physical space of not that large hall.

Jerusalem, My Stones art video essay which includes my art photography and collages and some of my husband Michael Rogatchi’s paintings, is dedicated to all Jerusalemites, those who are physically in the Holy City and those who hold it in their hearts.

When the Silver Thread becomes the Golden Bowl

Bar-Mitzvah ceremonies for Jewish boys are organised regularly in the Tunnel today by the Temple Heritage Foundation. Significantly, many of those boys are orphans and from underprivileged families. This is what I call the Silver Thread – or the Silver Cord as it often translated from Ecclesiastes  – “Remember Him before the silver cord is broken  (and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed), (Ecclesiastes 12:6).

I find it very symbolic that there has been only one documented episode in the entire Jewish-Arab history where there was Arab and Jewish unification on a certain issue. What was the issue? Back in the early 20th century, between 1907 and 1914, there were scandalous and farcical escapades of British aristocrats led by Monty Parker, to excavate in the heart of Jerusalem to recover nothing less than the Ark of the Covenant. They efficiently bribed the Turkish officials who were administering Jerusalem, and they went for unauthorised excavations hiding what they were doing in the most hilarious way. When word went out that the Brits were after the Ark, Jews and Arabs of Jerusalem united in fierce riots against the illegal doings of Monty Parker’s ‘brigade’ and made him flee for his life.    

At the junction where Muslim Quarter comes to Temple Plaza, there is another remarkable place, the Ohel Yitzhak Synagogue, which was destroyed by Jordan to its foundation – the same as the Hurva synagogue was  – in 1948, and which had been restored in mid-2010s. The synagogue which formerly was the Synagogue of Hungarian Jewry and was built in 1870s and now it is back to life, is very light, gracious and beautiful . Just before it was re-opened in mid- 2010s, we saw the IDF soldiers with their officers there with some of them able to pray at the quiet and inviting place. This is how the Ecclesiastic Silver Thread is becoming the Golden Bowl – without cracks.Inna Rogatchi (C). Ohel Yakov reborn. Fine art collage. 70 x 50 cm. 2014.

Hopes implemented

The energy of these stones has provided the nourishment for many generations of the Jewish people, for all those who keep Jerusalem in their hearts as the nucleus of their universe.

There is no other sensation in the world like the one felt when one’s hand is touching those warm, wise stones, the stones which are speaking to you, one to one. Inna Rogatchi (C). The Thread of Jerusalem. Fine art photography. Limited Edition. 2015.

When we had visited Jerusalem for the first time in the  beginning of the 1990s, we were trembling in excitement and disbelief at being on Israeli soil.

The most powerful sensation that I’ve had at the time was losing the sense of time. I felt as if the city had been kept above the earth and held upward by a superior power. It was a very distinct magnetism, gentle, but extremely firm. Most importantly, time has no power over it. I also was stricken by the the gentleness of the air around us, that unique Jerusalem gaze, those tones of gentle blue and rose and shimmering beige being melted into that one and only aired, flying colour of Jerusalem. If colours can fly, it happens at this very place. 

The Feeling of Jerusalem is the sort of a sensation which transforms into conviction.

As a matter of fact, Jerusalem, to me, has never been a city – it is the Place. The unique, blessed Place of unparalleled, re-assuring power and magnetism. The source of strength and hope. The place which is upheld by the ultimate power. The Talmud provides a straightforward explanation for this: “Eternity – this refers to Jerusalem” ( Berachot 58a). Inna Rogatchi (C). The cloud of Glory. Watercolour, wax pastel, oil pastel, lapice pastel, perle le blanc on authored original archival print on cotton paper. 50 x 70 cm. 2013-2020.

The Wonders of the Tunnels

Later on, exploring the Temple Tunnel, we were extremely privileged to be at the place which is just ninety metres from the Holy of Holies. The place which is the holiest one for the Jewish observant people, is quite simple but appropriately adorned. It is a place for praying, with many praying books around, a few chairs, and a couple of rows of seats. Everything there is unpretentiously gracious and just incredibly calm.

I always think that we, people, are so small staying next to the solid parts of the Wall which are 55 and 45 thousand tons of weight each, correspondingly. But as small as we are next to these stones, we do feel their warmth – which is wondrous given the fact that they are staying erect from the Second Temple period, and are under the level of earth for thousands of years by now.

In the Tunnel, one can also see the place where the Kotel really ends, and one realises, happily, that the Kotel – and our strength emanated and sustained by it –  is substantially longer than the visible part, those precious 87,5 metres of the Wall at the Temple Plaza today.

Inna Rogatchi (C). Giant of the Wall. The Temple Tunnel. Watercolour, wax pastel, oil pastel, lapice pastel, perle d’or on authored original archival print on cotton paper. 50 x 70 cm. 2014-2020.

Among the wonders of the Tunnel, we can also see the part of the authentic, original street from the Second Temple period, – and one just close of losing one’s mind trying to comprehend that we are able to touch and to be present among the stones which were witnessing and were the part of life in Jerusalem at the time of the Second Temple.

The Oleh Yitzhak Synagogue re-birth story was preceded by the well known Hurva Synagogue, a crown of the Hurva Square today.  After the date of its completed restoration in 2010, it is almost impossible to imagine that  this central place of the Old City once looked very different. Additionally, the Hurva story was particularly painful as it was the largest Ashkenazi synagogue in Jerusalem. Inna Rogatchi (C). Hurva Reminisce. Fine art photography. Limited edition. 1993-2013.

But when it comes to Jerusalem, there is something particular even in despair. In the early 1990s, the Hurva’s only surviving arch jumped into my husband’s and my hearts and stayed there. There are symbols like that in one’s life. Despite all the sorrow, that very arch meant our bridge to Jerusalem, for both of us. Reflecting this tangible bridge, Michael painted his so very special My Stones.Jerusalem painting which belongs to the Permanent Art Collection of the Municipality of Jerusalem, alongside famous works of Chagall and other great Jewish masters who did love Israel and Jerusalem with all their heart.Michael Rogatchi (C). My Stones. Jerusalem. Oil on canvas. 110 x 90 cm. 1993. Permanent Art Collection, the Municipality of Jerusalem.

Seventeen years after the completion of Michael’s work, Hurva Synagogue was restored. And then we united our artistic efforts and our love for Jerusalem and its spiritual treasures, and have created a special art collage, existing in the only copy. In that work, the ruins and the Arch of Hurva painted by Michael are merged with my artistic photograph of the Hurva restored. The piece is entitled Hurva Return, and we have presented the work to the outstanding Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzki who was an instrumental figure in making the restoration of Hurva possible. Inna & Michael Rogatchi (C). Hurva Return. Fine art collage on canvas. Unique. 2013. Permanent Art Collection, the Chief Rabbi of Dnepr, Ukraine.

With Jerusalem in heart in the desert of Gulag

Our generation is lucky to remember the Day in 1967 when it had happened, when historic justice prevailed due to human courage and commitment.

My husband will never forget when Jews exiled to the Soviet Gulag who were listening to the Voice of America secretly, risking their lives, were coming out to the streets in Kazakhstan crying out of joy “We’ve made the victory! We won! Jerusalem is ours, back again!”  ‘We’ – were crying with joy Jews exiled in nobody’s land. Many of us have been sharing their joy every year since Iyar 28, 1967 all over the world.

When many years and decades later, Michael was approached by the Jerusalem culture authorities with an idea to create a special collection of his works dedicated to the city, he worked with love and joy. Some of these works are the part of his special Zion Waltz series of exuberant paintings created in 2015-2017.Michael Rogatchi (C). My Yerushalaim. Exclusive art poster. 100 x 80 cm. 2021.

It is interesting to observe the transformation of feeling of Jerusalem in the artist’s heart: from painful, dramatic unsettling in Michael’s visioning of the Kotel as the essence of the Jewish history of suffering in his Portrait of the Kotel ( 1999) to the airy, flying, gentle Under the Skies of Jerusalem in 2016. In between those drama versus flight point, there are two depictions of the Lion of Judah, created by Michael with an 8 years gap, his shining  Lion created in 2008, and his soothing one created eight years later, in the work called Strength of Love ( 2016). The interesting and telling detail in the both works is the thoughtfulness of the Lion. The determination of love defending the essence of Judaism and the heart of Jewish nation in the second work is  pretty clear manifestation of the artist’s thoughts.

 Embracing ‘the whole Jerusalem’

My heart aches every time I pass the house where Israel patriots were hiding while fighting in the underground in 1948. My heart jumps every time when I am privileged to hear our Psalms at the Great Synagogue with its magnificent choir led by Ellie Jaffe. My heart stops when I feel the gentle but powerful push of the wind at every Shabbat we start at the Wall. That push of that wind signals us that the people of the nation are heard.

And I am thinking of Bella Chagall who was willing ‘to embrace the whole Jerusalem’ when she was a five years old child sitting with her family in Vitebsk, thousands of miles from it, – but knowing by her heart, the heart of a Jewish child, what Jerusalem is about.

Thirty years passed since my first acquaintance with Jerusalem, and our life has been stuffed with events. But I still remember and do feel the sensation of my personal discovering of Jerusalem  three decades ago as if it was happening today.  Probably, it was the main discovery in my entire life.Inna Rogatchi (C). The Dove of Israel. Exclusive art poster. 70 x 50 cm. 2021.

The Talmud provides the insight into the secret of the Kotel: according to it, there is a mirrored image of the Temple in the Heaven, and that entity keeps the Wall standing, no matter what occurs. Yet more importantly, it transcends the Presence. This presence is felt by anyone who ever visited the Kotel, even the most self-convinced atheists.   

For those who are not, in the beginning and in the end of the day, Jerusalem is the only place in this world where a person can talk with the Creator directly. 

The Soul and Its Age

Michael Rogatchi’s Interpretation of Astor Piazzolla

Music and Soul: the 100th anniversary of  Astor Piazzolla 

Cultural Diary series

Ageless sources of solace

Perhaps one needs to live enough to realise that a genius is ageless. 

Non-existent age of a genius has to do also with migration of souls whatever sceptics on the subject might be saying on this magnetic fact of the universe and experiences of our existence there. 

According to the certain school of thinking in Judaism tradition, every soul bears its certain ‘age’, so to say, which defines the behaviour of the person in whose body it lives. This is what people mean when saying about someone ‘he  or she was born as an old man or woman’, or to the contrary, this is, in fact, the reason explaining ever youngish behaviour and reactions of the people in an advanced age. It all is there, marked by ‘the age’ of our souls that we, our bodies are hosting during a span of our conscious existence in this world. Or rather they, our souls are hosting us which would be the more correct way of describing it, I think. Michael Rogatchi (C). Dance II. Oil pastel on cotton paper. 42 x 24 cm. 2013. Private collection, Austria.

The souls of geniuses are like diamonds which have been put into certain bodies to illuminate the world from within. These people are blessed to communicate with the Ultimate Source of their knowledge, their talent, their energy and their intuition directly, and this is an essential quality defining a genius who might be living and working among us. This kind of  blessing is not a syrup poured over the chosen personality’s head. So very often, it is a torment, like it was in the cases of Mozart, and Leonardo, and van Gogh. What they had created very often was the outcome of a painful inner struggle, and very often it had appeared in a process of sublimation of torment into stunning reflection. 

This kind of revelation is not for faint-hearted ones, it is for those who just cannot do otherwise, does not matter what. It is for those who are led by the Ultimate Force to create by the talent given to them via their unique souls and to originate completely new phenomena in our lives.  The fruit of those people’s labour lives on for years, decades and centuries on – meaning that in every given generation, there are many people who accept a song, a poem, an image as their own personal, intimate treasure. As a building material for one’s own soul. As ever existing contra- punctum of solace. Michael Rogatchi (C). Breakthrough. Libertango. After Piazzolla series. Indian ink, oil pastel on lilac hand-made Italian cotton paper. 50 x 35 cm. 2013.

 Unique communication of a soul

Unlikely any other field of art, music forms both our inner and outer atmospheres, sometimes simultaneously, sometime in turn. But it is always there. 

In Judaism, music is regarded as the primary means of self-expression, and also, importantly, as a primary creative faculty of a person. I believe that this postulate is universal. And I understand why: it is the most organic, immediate way of letting one’s emotions out, both in joy and sorrow. It is the soul’s talk which does not require any translation. In this, such communication of a soul is unique. 

Astor Piazzolla whose 100th anniversary of birth is on March 11, 2021, is among ageless geniuses, too. What he had created qualifies to this level of human achievement, indeed. Interestingly enough, and not that usual, it is not the way he played, there are some, very few, of his interpreters  – like the one of his last pupils, incomparable Richard Galliano – who might come even close in their interpretation to what Piazzolla meant while creating his ageless ocean of emotions.  

What Astor Piazzolla has created is not some music however interesting it might be. His genius is in creating the universe, a totally original, encompassing universe of musical dimension that absorbs a human being and which opens its own sphere of emotions. In my opinion, there is no other music created in the 20th century which does it with the same harmony, same novelty, and same beauty. Michael Rogatchi (C). Piazzolla Universe. Indian ink, oil pastel on lilac hand-made Italian cotton paper. 50 x 65 cm. 2012.

Fearless nudity of a soul

In a paradoxical way, while I call Piazzolla and his genius ageless, I am convinced that his musical language is quite-essentially organic to the 20th century. That syncope-crypted world,  that fearless nudity of a soul, not due to self-centered exhibitionism but due to inexplicable strength to face the pain as it is. That screaming silence of insuperable scars and voids, both self-inflicted and received from outside. All this language of a musical monologue, and Piazzolla is an emphatic monologue, has originated namely in the 20th century, with its raging disfiguration of soul.  This unique musical language has also incorporated into itself a stunned silence of a human being of the 20th century facing fruitless efforts of amending the disfigured remnant of oneself in the non-stopping turmoils of that utterly tragic period in history of civilisation.  

Because of the character and quality of the energy emanating from  Astor Piazzolla creations it is utterly impossible to realise that became 100 years old on March 11th, 2021. Because of its superb intellectuality, the quality which is extremely rare in music, Piazzolla’s music is perceived as ultra-modern ever. Because of his honesty and courage to share what his soul was seeing in a mirror, Piazzolla has created a unique cosmos of revelations that people often are not daring to make for themselves. With this gift of disturbing, edgy, beautiful emotional experience, Piazzolla has become the part of so many of us.  

In an amazing experience of creating beauty by sharing pain, Piazzolla did express the feelings of people in a more articulated way that we dared to do it ourselves. He did it with such dignity of suffering that it has become a distinct human achievement of all times. That is what has earned him the place among those ageless geniuses – making suffering dignified and beautiful. Michael Rogatchi (C). Talk to Me II. Indian ink, oil pastel on dark-blue hand-made Italian cotton paper. 65 x 50 cm. 2013. Private collection, Washington D.C., USA.

Interpretation of music as a reflection of mentality

As a devoted member of Piazzolla followers world-wide, the matter of various ways in which musicians from different countries, with different backgrounds and of different generations  are reading and understanding Piazzolla interests me always. And I never tired of hearing 20+ versions of a certain Piazzolla’s piece to compare them in nuances of interpretation. 

In those interpretations, once and again, apart from accordionist Richard Galliano, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Gidon Kremer, over the years, I am repeatedly taken by the authenticity  of the understanding of Piazzolla by the musicians especially from Russia and Poland. And I understand where it comes from. The degree of required openness of musicians’ nerves in the musical schools of both Russia and Poland, albeit different ones, provides the finesse of reading of Piazzolla by their musicians. 

There is no surprise in this, though, as interpretation of music reflects a general mentality. Piazzolla requires courage of a special sort: courage of opening one’s inner feelings to an uncomfortable, and for many, forbidding degree. Piazzolla also requires intellectuality, his sensitivity is very brainy one. And finally, Piazzolla requires a pleasure of paradoxicality, his music is a melodic Magritte. All these qualities are historically organic for the mentality and inner distinctions of culture of people both in Russia and Poland, and for their music schools, as well. 

If Polish musicians are playing Piazzolla in the most filigrane nervous  equilibre imaginable, many Russian masters of music are playing Piazzolla as one breaths, without even noticing – or caring – that one may be staying on the edge of a cliff.  Sometimes I think that those musicians are getting in their never-tired search for an ultimate secret of Piazzolla code yet deeper under his skin than he did sometimes allow it to himself. Michael Rogatchi (C). Tango Memories II. Indian ink, oil pastel on dark-blue hand-made Italian cotton paper. 24 x 42 cm. 2012. Private collection, Italy.

But my total surprise  of  the finesse  of  the interpretation of Piazzolla  and  simply bottomless,  tangible  tenderness of it was caused by Mongolian Symphony Orchestra. I have no explanation for that extraordinary phenomena but love. And I am so grateful for that. 

Artistic homage to Piazzolla

My painter husband Michael who plays several musical instruments, accordion including, himself, and  who is painting music all his artistic career and who flies in the Piazzolla space all his life, knowing , seeing, reading, thinking about Astor for years, additionally to constant listening to his music in all its variety, started to work on his homages to the creator of tango nuevo from 2011 onward. In 2013, the main part of Michael’s Libertango: After Piazzolla series appeared. The series has been exhibited widely, in many countries, with great success. Michael continues to work on this important theme for him – “because there always is something new in Piazzolla that emerges from the melodies which you are supposed to know by heart and to understand well, you thought. But in fact, Piazzolla’s thought, his inner message fluctuates on a daily basis. It enriches life to the degree of total amazement, and I am never tired of following his tunes, his inner tunes, trying to discover something  intimately personal for myself. And, with never seizing gratitude to great Astor Piazzolla, I always do”, – said Michael on his ongoing work on looking, artistically, into the Piazzolla’s mirror.   The expanded series of Michael’s homage to Piazzolla  refers to many musical phenomena within that unique Piazzolla universe. Michael Rogatchi (C). Libertango. After Piazzolla. Homage to Piazzolla series. Indian ink, oil pastel on dark-blue hand-made Italian cotton paper. 50 x 35 cm. 2013.

Perhaps, one needs just to concentrate a bit in the midst of a hectic life whirling around to realise that a genius always is of the age of one’s at the given moment. Especially in music. And particularly in the ocean of a tango nuevo

One hundred years of Astor Piazzolla? We are so incredibly lucky to be his contemporaries. And it is only the first century of the music of the man who brought an open heart on the proscenium of music.