JEWISH WAY OF MICHAEL ROGATCHI

LEADING FINNISH HISTORIAN ON MICHAEL ROGATCHI’s ART

Faces of the Shoah II. Our Women. Indian ink on white cotton paper. 70 x 50 cm. 1991.

Michael Rogatchi has expressed the tragedy of the Holocaust in quite laconic way. The artist does not cross the border of taste and measure. In the tone of his works, thought is very deep and can still be perfectly self-controlled. And this is especially important while dealing with such a painful theme as reflecting Holocaust.

The one painting, the same after which the exhibition had been named, The Way, was not exhibited in Espoo, however. A couple of months before the exhibition, Michael Rogatchi presented the painting to Simon Wiesenthal who liked it very much and expressed his warm gratitude to Michael.

The Way. Oil on canvas. 90 x 60 cm. 1993. Simon Wiesenthal private collection, later Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Los-Angeles, USA.

“It is impossible to have made a better choice for the present made to very this person,” – Alan Levy, well-known American writer and journalist, the author of the famous book The Wiesenthal File, said during a modest but touching ceremony while Rogatchi’s painting had been handed to Wiesenthal in his Jewish Documentation Centre in Vienna.

People visiting The Jewish Way exhibition are staying there for a surprisingly long while. It is really very difficult to leave that uneasy celebration of Memory.

Professor Mika Vuola, Finland.

PAINTING PHILOSOPHER

PROFILE OF MICHAEL ROGATCHI IN LEADING FINNISH DAILY

Michael Rogatchi (C). “Poor Yorick!..” In memory of Marcello Mastroianni. 1996.

Imagine a person whose approach to his work is based on the consideration on what if Pygmalion fell in love with a statue not because of her ultimate beauty but out of his own despair for love? That Pygmalion’s motivation has made him to perceive an unfinished statue, which was far from ultimate beauty, as the most wonderful thing in the world.

Michael Rogatchi, our very well-known artist living in Turku, definitely fell victim to one of Heaven’s mistakes. He should have been born in the last century: in 1853 instead of 1953, when van Gogh would have been his contemporary. In that century, artists, composers, and writers were the masters of life. It was the period when a classical education was engrained into the life and marked and defined it. In those times, there was no need to explain who Pygmalion was. In that world, Michael Rogatchi would be at home.

One of his most impressive paintings is July 29th. In Memory of Van Gogh. Michael painted there the last moments of van Gogh’s life as he himself understand, no, feels it. As a matter of fact, the painter succeeded in expressing an extreme moment of being at the border of life and death , literally so.

In Michael’s painting , van Gogh is wearing rather strange shoes, not only very old and falling apart, but not a pair at all. Michael could not explain why but he said that he ‘knew 100% that van Gogh must have had those kinds of shoes, unpaired ones’. To the artist’s amazement, much later after he finished that his work, Michael learned that yes, prior to his death Vincent van Gogh did wear shoes from different pairs, indeed. It is just one of the many fascinating coincidences in Michael’s work and life. 

We are familiar with Michael’s affection for eyes and an eyes’ expressions. He is still fascinated by it. But now, there is something new, as well, in Michael’s works. One can see that the artist has been interested in hands, too. He paints them in a very fascinating and attractive way, making one symbol using hands, after another, each time with a different meaning.

The artist is saying that “hands, indeed, are an extremely important part of a human body. Hands ‘speak out’ on one’s strength, weakness, and hope. Hands can defend and can reject. Hands invite and say good-bye…” And one can see that however different they are, hands painted by Rogatchi have had experienced a lot.

Michael Rogatchi (C). Breaking of Continuity. 1996.

And what about his famous eyes? They are mostly women’s. Michael does not paint a lot of men, in general. Well, the reason is simple: “Eyes tell everything about a woman. Everything!” – says the artist. 

Each year Michael Rogatchi makes at least one painting of a horse. Horses he loves very much, and understands them profoundly. For Michael, horses are the symbol and even the embodiment of energy. “From the horses in my paintings, one could see quite clearly what kind of year it has been for me. Sometimes, horses are very dynamic, radiating joy and wildness in its best meaning, and it means that I had been quite energetic during that year. Another paintings portrays tired, or sad, or exhausted horses, – and I was the same that year,” – shares Michael.

Together with his wife Inna, well-known writer and movie director, Michael Rogatchi demonstrated unparalleled courage in pursuing their goals. Needless to say, their incredibly hard work has led them both to wide success and recognition. During the last five years, Michael have had as many as seventeen exhibitions, and his works have gone to art collectors worldwide. One of the most interesting works which he has exhibited recently at his large and representative personal retrospective exhibition at the Tampere Hall, was ‘Poor Yorick!…’ In Memory of Marcello Mastroianni. This work is truly an original reading of the famous Shakespearian character from Hamlet. Similarly as Days and Nights of Pygmalion and other works from The Back Side of the Moon Collection, this remarkable painting approaches well-known classical characters and phenomenon from a completely different point of view, and with an independent interpretation.

July 29th. In Memory of van Gogh. 1995.

Michael Rogatchi has obviously learned a lot from the essential cultural figures of the past. And there is definitely a strong presence of this essential linkage in his works.

One of Rogatchi’s most peculiar features as a modern artist is his unstoppable desire to see the Moon from the other side. Otherwise, how on earth would he know about van Gogh’s shoes?…

Tarja Passi, Iltalehti Weekend, Finland, Iltalehti is the biggest and most popular daily in Finland.

POWERFUL IMPACT OF MORAL VALUES

Leading Israeli Newspaper on Michael Rogatchi’s Art

The exhibition Dream, Memory, Love by the Finnish-Jewish painter Michael Rogatchi project a very powerful impact on the audience. It cast moral values on the Rogatchi’s canvases with great power. It keeps people attached to the paintings up to degree which is quite rarely seen in the modern art.

Michael Rogatchi (C). Bolero composition. Part 2. 2000-2002.

Some of his paintings – as big and powerful Bolero Composition – are simply exceptional and truly very highly visually appealing works of art. The author explains that he is working through a complicated way of vast network of associations in order to get the results which are really stays in his audience’s memory for ever.

Orly Goldkeleng, Makor Rishon newspaper, Jerusalem.

UNIQUE ART AT THE DISTINGUISHED GALLERY

EXCERPTS FROM THE OPENING SPEECH BY THE AMBASSADOR OF ISRAEL TO FINLAND AND ESTONIA H.E. SHEMI TSUR AT MICHAEL ROGATCHI’S EXHIBITION

Excerpts from the Opening Speech of the Ambassador of Israel to Finland and Estonia H.E. Shemi Tsur at the ceremony of the opening of Michael Rogatchi’s Dream, Memory, Love exhibition – The Art Gallery of the Estonian National Library, Tallinn, Estonia, August 2004. 

Samson. The Last Smile. Oil on canvas. 110 x 100 cm. 2002.

I would like to congratulate the organisers of this exhibition, the National Library of Estonia, for hosting this unique art at their distinguished gallery. This exhibition is a part of a long journey, in several senses of the word. In its direct meaning, it travels the world during a few years, from Finland to Israel, Central Europe, London, Italy, all the Baltic states. 

Michael is a very special artist, with the background of a scientist which is a rare case which produced a remarkable results. 

Michael is a person whom you will like from the moment you meet him. When I have arrived a year ago to my post in Helsinki to be an Israeli Ambassador to Finland and Estonia, the name of Rogatchis, Inna and Michael, was known to me from the line of the former Israeli Ambassadors to Finland and Estonia. It was just natural to invite Michael and Inna to our residence. In our first meeting, we discussed almost everything from politics to poetry, arts, journalism, families and friends, difficulties and successes. During that conversation, I found the artist full with joy and love.

Getting know Michael and his work closer, I started to admire his art. The wideness of his way of artistic expression fascinated me. I admire Michael’s love for Israel which is transpiring from his work, his devotion to Jewish heritage and tradition. One is lucky – and I am amazed of it – to find in the works of this one artist practically everything: sharp observations, exuberant joy of life, his love for the family, his pain, sadness and at the same time hope, optimism, and humour. 

From Michael’s paintings, you can also feel an admiration for culture, heritage, and great respect for wisdom and spirituality. 

The other thing which fascinates me in Michael’s art is that it is very hard to define which kind of style he is working in. This artist does not bound by any restrictions, but motivated by his Dreams, Memories and Love. 

We all have different dreams, different memories of our families, events in our lives, our celebrations and our tragedies. Michael has his incredible ability, his talent to combine all of it for us in a brilliant way. The way that makes us to think of our dreams and memories and to believe in a better future full of light, hope, joy and love. 

In his works, Michael covers different topics. For me, the most impressive ones are his works on Jerusalem, on the Bible, and his reflections on the Holocaust. Michael’s artistic interpretation of the Bible is original, mighty, interesting, modern and powerful – have a look on his work dedicated to Samson. It is an incredible artistic achievement.

Next Year in Jerusalem. Oil on canvas. 70 x 66 cm. 1996.

Michael also was able to present the theme of Holocaust in an unique way. On one side, the shocking realities of the Shoah are portrayed in his works to the extent that you can feel the pain and the suffering. On the other side, you notice the optimism for the future. For many of us, it is like with Michael: the memory and the knowledge about the Holocaust lives with us, inside us, so that it is the integral part of us. There is no comparison in the history of mankind to the evil ideology of the Nazism and its  Final Solution. Six million Jewish, among them one and a hlaf million children were brutally murdered in that unspeakable crime. And still, more than 60 years later, after the horrors of the Holocaust took places, the issue of anti-Semitism is still with us today, even in the European countries. 

Michael, than you very much for sharing with us your Dream, your memory and your Love, and I would like to send my presentation with a quotation from the letter of Simon Wiesenthal sent last year to Michael: “I am glad that there are people like you, Michael, who will continue to remind people”. 

ART OF EXPRESSIVE INTELLECT

Introduction by Burlington Gallery, London, the UK

The Art of Michael Rogatchi

Michael Rogatchi (C). Backstage. In memory of Juhan Viiding. 1994.

Artistic manner of Michael Rogatchi who is working in figurative contemporary art, can be described as metaphorical expressionism. His paintings are noteworthy because of the combination of deep inner thoughts with expressionistic solutions.

His special vision of space is a result of his intensive experience in theatre, where he used to work as set- and stage designer. Initially his works has been influenced by a magic of theatre. In Rogatchi’s paintings, sensation of space can be intriguingly multi-dimensional. Motion is undoubtedly essential in his paintings and makes them full of dramatic displays of a complex world, seemingly being in-born for the artist.

One of the most attractive features of Michael Rogatchi’s art is the way he did find for his expression, by combining an established classic manner of portraying a subject with modern dynamic motion and unpredictable use of colour. Both good school and modern thinking are happily co-existing in his works.

The article for the catalogue of the inauguration exhibition at The New Burlington Gallery, London, the UK.

DRAMA OF THE PLOT, INTENSITY OF COLOURS, MAGNETISM OF WORKS: MICHAEL ROGATCHI’S ART

EXHIBITION REVIEW BY LEADING ART CRITIC

MICHAEL ROGATCHI’S DREAM, MEMORY, LOVE EXHIBITION IN TALLINN, ESTONIA.

REVIEW BY ELLA AGRANOVSKY, YOUTH OF ESTONIA newspaper, August 2004

Michael Rogatchi’s paintings are very interesting because of the artist’s colour resolution. His paintings plot is dramatic always, his colours are intense, and the inter-connection of the plots and colour resolutions originates an extra drama of those magnetic works. Philosophical context and essence of his works are settling it in a special kind of art when artist knows precisely well what does he want to say and why. It is a rare quality in the contemporary art. 

Michael Rogatchi’s exhibition consist three main parts which reflects the essence of human life: dream, memory, love. Following the artist’s concept of his latest and largest, so far, exhibition ( showing 73 artworks), ‘without dream, there is no present, without memory there is neither past or future, and without love nothing happens or exist ever’. And all these patterns of our lives are inter-connected in Michael Rogatchi’s art and his works and perception.

It is just naturally impossible to convey in words his large and magnificent Bolero composition. The one of the allusions after looking into that big ‘tapestry of life’ is that it reminds, in highly artistic way, about roundness of life as a philosophical concept, with its every next spiral drives us up to the new level. Bolero is full with conceptual allusions, the one of them is that corrida, the form of mutual struggle between human being and an animal, a bull, in this case, is a very special model of relationships which presents to the both parties an unique possibility of inter-transformation. 

The artist emphasises that his philosophical Bolero composition is an artistic study of compassion. He says that with regard to corrida, the most compassion is awaken in me as in human being by the destiny of horses participated there, and it always was the case. I always felt this compassion thinking on horses  which participate in corrida. This work is about necessity and possibility of choices, it is about our human attitude to many things and phenomena around us, it is about freedom, and the feelings and behaviour of a slave in whatever context , forms and ways of slavery it could bee, and behaviour and choices of a free man. It is a drama, a contrast between despair and cruelty from one side, and mercy, beauty and energy from another. Freedom is the highest value – as for a human being, as for every living creature”, – emphasises the artist. 

The exhibition in a whole provides its viewers with a firework full of dramas, passions, emotions and beauty. It is must art and culture event in Tallinn, and anywhere where this stunning exhibition of this so special master will be travelling in its impressive international tour.

SEARCHING FOR HARMONY

 REVIEW BY LEADING JOURNALIST

APPROXIMATIONS OF WHITE 

By Olga Pavuk, Editor-in-Chief. 

The Baltic Course Magazine. Fall 2003.

The paintings of Michael Rogatchi, artist from Finland, are due to be exhibited in Lithuania later this autumn. The works are truly amazing because of its’ warmth, unparalleled combination of the paintings’ closeness to reality and the stunning romanticism at the same time.

Portrat with Rain. The Artists Wife. 1995.

Recently published album of the artist’s works besides reproductions of his paintings includes a long essay in a form of the Michael’s conversation with his wife Inna. Here are the excerpts of the master’s thoughts:

METAPHOR FOR CREATIVITY 

“One’s life can perhaps best be visualized as a series of shadows of white and  variations on white. When a human being is born and is still new to this world, this white is untouched. As life progresses, a large variety of shades of white combine to create a characteristic tapestry or pattern to life that is unique to the individual. When a human being leaves this world, this life passage can also be thought of as a return to white. But the quality of this white, as well as that of the future colour of memory, is ours to determine. The degree of decency with which an individual life is led will determine the brilliance, purity and depth of this colour.

The ability of white to reflect and produce shadow and its unique capacity to produce the full spectrum of colour is also a metaphor for creativity. Producing a shadow entails the creation of volume: indeed, a special form of volume, unseen but implied and the result of intelligence alone.”

SEARCHING FOR HARMONY

“If I consider the great paintings that feature so largely in our education, I am sometimes struck by a paradox inspired by a mistaken perception. For instance, when observing Leonardo’s “Homo Vitruvius”, we instinctively feel that when Leonardo created this symbol of harmony, life was far more balanced than it is now. Of course, this is untrue. The essential features and parameters of life on this planet remain unchanged. The existence of computers does not make their owners Homo Sapiens any more talented or skilful than an individual equipped with a goose’s nib. In many cases, quite the contrary. 

The Heart of the Matter. Michael Rogatchi. 2001.

Man’s mind and conscience are still travelling in the same direction, searching for harmony. Through the ‘golden ratio’, which he illustrated in “Homo Vitruvius”, Leonardo provided a hypothesis that explained the harmony present in the human body shaped by the Creator.

In my work “Homo Vitruvius (Twentieth Century)”, I wanted to show what happened to a human being, in itself an expression of harmony, when cast into the maelstrom of the twentieth century.”

THE PRINCIPAL THEME

“The Jewish theme is key to my work: indeed, it forms its raison d’etre. Outside this context, I could not imagine myself as an artist or even as a person. Interestingly, all my works focusing on a Jewish theme have provided me with an impetus to explore new ideas and different artistic directions”.

The Baltic Course. 2003.

THE WAY TO REMEMBER

Michael Rogatchi and His Jewish Way series and exhibition

Michael Rogatchi (C). Next Year In Jerusalem. Jewish Mother. 1994.

The Jewish theme is a very personal one for the artist. And his interpretation of that theme evokes great co-excitement in such works as Family SupperMy Stones. Jerusalem, and Portrait of Osip Mandelshtam. In exploring these themes, Michael Rogatchi shows a deep knowledge of history, religion and culture of his people. His Jewish cycle is an organic portrayal of his own spiritual heritage.

The rare thing about Rogatchi’s paintings is that memory can still be alive on his canvases. That kind of memory demands a serious constant effort from the public as well. A deep humanity is an essential aspect of Michael Rogatchi’s art. Apart from his strong intellectual message, his art is full of attentive and carrying love.

Tarja Pasi, Introduction to Michael Rogatchi’s Jewish Way exhibition in Finland.

STUNNNG ROMANTICISM

Senior Baltic journalist on Michael Rogatchi’s art and its romanticism

Michael Rogatchi (C). Paris Memories. 1998.

The works of Michael Rogatchi are truly amazing because of their warmth, the unparalleled combination of the paintings’ closeness to reality and the stunning romanticism at the same time.

Olga Pavuk, Editor-in-Chief, The Baltic Course magazine.