Born in 1947 in the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk, Israeli painter Eduard Gurevich has been depicting “Judaica” – Jewish life, traditions, customs and habits – for over twenty years. His hometown Dnepropetrovsk is the place where the renowned Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), the Orthodox Hasidic spiritual leader, had spent time as a boy.
The artist presents the Jewish experience across Europe and Israel through weddings, birthdays, market places, musical gatherings, ritual observances and material objects like tallits and Torah scrolls. Painted in a style that brings to mind the works of Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder, several pieces are set in the “shtetlekh” (singular “shtetl”) of countries like Poland and the Netherlands. Shtetl is the Yiddish word for the small towns of large Jewish populations that existed in Europe (particularly central and eastern) prior to the Holocaust. Two notable painters who have similarly been associated with life in the shtetlekh are Maurycy Minkowski (1881-1930) and Ilex Beller (1914-2005).
As he looks back and displays the history of his people with great fondness and reverence, Mr. Gurevich writes: “The memory of the six million Jews who were murdered doesn’t give me any calm. Time and again, I return to the usual theme–the Shtetl, in order to show in my drawings the adaptation of the Jews to their surroundings, their order of living, their hardships, the faith in the Torah, the roots and the stories of our parents and grandparents. The Judaica that I paint is a comprehensive topic of a worldwide culture. I dedicate the drawings that I paint to the memory of all the Jews, our brothers and sisters who were cruelly murdered in the Holocaust. Their holiness reminds us of the huge tragedy of our nation.”
Having studied in the famous art schools of Ukraine, Mr. Gurevich moved to Israel (“made aliyah”) in 1990. Many of his family members and relatives were unable to escape the Nazis and lost their lives back in the 1940s. He hopes his art will make people appreciate the beauty, wisdom and grandeur of Judaism. Mr. Gurevich has participated in several international exhibitions and his works are in private collections in Germany, Canada, the USA, France, Russia and Israel.
Images used with permission.