The coat of many colors:
Paintings and drawings by
ALEXANDER VAISMAN was born in 1967 in Chernovtsy, currently a Ukrainian city that was formerly known as Czernowitz when it was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before World War I, and later as Cernauti in interbellum Romania. Czernowitz is a city with a long-standing and strong Jewish tradition, once an important Jewish center in Eastern Europe, which was home to many prominent scholars, rabbis, poets, and artists. Alexander graduated from the Chernovtsy Music College with a degree in violin performance. He made aliya in 1991 and currently lives in Natsrat-Illit with his wife Mila and their four children.
Alexander started his artistic explorations at a very young age; when left home alone, he covered the apartment walls with bright and colorful floral arrangements. Since then, his portfolio has grown to include more than a thousand works in many different genres. Besides creating paintings, drawings and sculptures, Alexander has illustrated a number of books published in Israel, USA, Russia, France and UK, and worked as a set and costume designer for several theaters and international art and film festivals. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions in Israel, Ukraine and the United States. Alexander’s art has been featured in many newspapers and magazines, and in the TV documentary, "A Letter to a Son". Many of Alexander’s works can be viewed online, in his web gallery (at www.vaisman.org), which is a very popular site of the Jewish internet – over the twelve years of its existence, it has been visited by more than 300,000 people.
Alexander's drawings and paintings illuminate the experience of being Jewish under different and often very difficult circumstances. His works are motivated by a strong sense of belonging to a rich and venerable culture. They reflect the eternal themes of Jewish family life, faith, and ritual, as well as the turbulent events of our era. Alexander’s rendering of the world of Yiddishkayt is poignant but not apologetic. The artist does not try to gloss over conflicts and controversies, from the story of Joseph and his brothers to all kinds of differences and disagreements that exist at any historic period.
Just as Joseph received a coat from his father, every generation receives a gift that may serve both as a symbol of continuity and a source of potential discontent. However, ultimately, differences must be resolved and everyone must come back together; that is why in the world of Alexander Vaisman’s artwork, bearded tzaddikim peacefully coexist with red-starred commissars from Babel’s “Red Cavalry”. Young lovers and respectable sages soar high above the earth, where only abandoned gravestones mark once vibrant and lively Jewish towns. Halutzim armed with shovels and machine guns build their future in the Jewish state under the watchful eyes of klezmorim armed with violins and clarinets.
Many centuries of Jewish life in Eastern Europe shaped a unique civilization that embraced paradoxical combinations of a profound religious belief and an open-minded world outlook, an energetic entrepreneurship and a spirited quest for a social justice, adherence to the tradition and susceptibility to new influences. Alexander Vaisman belongs to the last generation that observed this civilization in the region where it all but disappeared, and he is actively participating in integrating his insights into the new Jewish culture, which is being defined today in Israel and everywhere the Jewish people continue their journey.
2008 marks several dates that are very important for the artist. This year Israel celebrates its 60th anniversary. Alexander’s hometown, Czernowitz, is becoming 600 years old. It is also a centennial year of the Czernowitz Yiddish Conference, which played a critical role in the development of modern Yiddish culture. All three of them: Czernowitz, Yiddish and Israel are among the most important sources of Alexander’s inspiration. This exhibition is dedicated to these anniversaries.
Alexander Vaisman Gallery - www.vaisman.org
This exhibit is made possible by Rachel and David Abraham.