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Samuel Bak Jewish Artist By: Kevin Linden Famous Warsaw Ghetto Child.

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Presentation on theme: "Samuel Bak Jewish Artist By: Kevin Linden Famous Warsaw Ghetto Child."— Presentation transcript:

1 Samuel Bak Jewish Artist By: Kevin Linden Famous Warsaw Ghetto Child.

2 Who is this boy? “Indeed, let’s speak of this boy, and I shall leave alone the other children, distraught mothers, German soldiers with pointed guns, and all additional participants in the famous photo. I noticed how poignantly the figure of the boy remained detached from the crowd. Dedicated to him and to them are innumerable essays, research papers, and books --an ever-growing field of exploration. But mine is a separate chapter. Today I shall try to direct our attention to the Warsaw Boy in my paintings.”

3 The Pan York It brings with it an over-spilling shipload of Holocaust survivors. Its deck is packed with thousands of excited faces, gesticulating hands, and among them am I, a boy of fifteen. We have just completed a seemingly interminable voyage on this former Cuban banana carrier, which treated its human cargo as if it were lifeless merchandise, hardly allowing us any space to move, or air to breath.

4 Few observers realized that in the hold of the Pan York, together with me, my mother, my stepfather, and thousands of other Jews from DP camps, traveled many thousands of ghosts, perhaps millions of ghosts. The Pan York

5 They dwelt among us survivors in our humble and hastily erected houses on leg-like stills of concrete. We had places we could call home, we had a promise of life, and that was great! But I had to learn to live with the ghosts of my stepfather’s two daughters and of his first wife; and he, a traumatized survivor of Dachau, had to put up with the shadow of my mother’s beloved first husband, the father I lost when I was ten. And besides them we had the ghosts of my grandparents, the one of my best childhood friend Samek Epstein, and many others... Such arrangements were normal. Most of our neighbors lived with entire populations of lost parents, lost siblings, and lost children.

6 Trying to Fit In We did our best to look like perfect families. We pretended to radiate resilience and contentment, this was the order of the day. Our honor was at stake. And although there was a cloud over our heads, because we were the representatives of the six millions of victims that had “allowed themselves to be slaughtered like sheep.

7 Symbolism…… Symbolism…… The ghosts who lived with us became our silent partners, and we knew that we would pass them on to the future generations. Luckily, the passing of time brought some appeasement. Wandering from country to country, living partially in Israel, partially in various European states, and now in the US, my acute sense of loss turned into a vital part of my inner self. What I would call my creative being has found ways to liberate its grief. I painted and painted and painted.

8 Symbolisms I take the symbols that allow me tell my stories and under the appearance of a classical style I incorporate them into my paintings. I try to speak of things I regard as important. After the Star of David, the Tablets, Keys, Trees and Tombstones, came to me the figure of the Warsaw Boy.

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17 Whenever I look at these paintings I see in them my closest childhood friend, Samek Epstein. We were born the same year, and we both bore the same diminutive of the Hebrew name Shmuel, or Samuel, which in Polish became Samek. In 1941, during the Nazi occupation of Vilna, the Lithuanian police discovered the eight-year-old Samek hiding in the home of a Christian woman. They dragged him to the courtyard and shot him. His body was left for hours in a puddle of blood as a warning to any other Jews who might try to remain outside the Ghetto. That vision is one I never forgot.

18 Is it vain of me to hope that through my art I can somehow live now for the two of us, for Samek and for myself, and that in this way his obliterated future will not have been totally lost. Alive in my mind and work, he and the Ghettoboy help me safeguard the memory of all of those martyred children, the entire million and more. And as I said, the more time passes, and the more I see how very little the world is ready to learn from past mistakes, the more this boy transcends the Jewish tragedy and ends up representing a universal one.

19 I began to wish for monuments that would be temporary, or at least transportable. I knew that in reality such monuments could not exist, but I could paint them. The Warsaw Boy came to my help. In order to reflect more deeply on all these complex issues, I decided to paint him in a series of small canvases that would be dedicated to his memory. I painted impossible memorials, tombstones of sorts, humble and perishable “reliquaries,” made of rubble, cutouts and throwaways. All of them called up his ghostlike presence. Such were the only tangible markings of memory that I could produce. Thus the boy from Warsaw, my new friend, this alter ego of mine, began emerging in my canvases, and suddenly I painted him again and again. With time I began to feel that not fifteen or twenty such imagined tombstones should arise in these nonexistent cemeteries, but an entire million. I have painted over 100 canvases honoring this child and his memory. May he never be forgotten.

20 1933 Born 12 August in Vilna, Poland Under German occupation: ghetto, work-camp, refuge in a monastery First exhibition of drawings in the ghetto Vilna Displaced Persons camps in Germany; studied painting in Munich Emigrated to Israel Studied at the Bezalel Art School, Jerusalem Army service Lived in Paris. Studied at the "Ecole des Beaux-Arts." Lived in Rome; in Israel; in New York City; in Israel; in Paris; in Switzerland Moved to Weston, Massachusetts. Samuel, his mother Mitzia and his stepfather Natan Markowsky


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