ISAAC CELNIKIER (born 1929)
ABOUT ISAAC CELNIKIER
A MIRROR TO THE UNSPEAKABLE
Isaac Celnikier is represented by Mayanot Gallery since 1986
The painter Isaac Celnikier lives and works in Paris, but makes long visits to Israel. He was born in Warsaw in 1923. When the war started in 1939, he was a youth of sixteen. The terrible years of persecution found him in the ghetto of Bialystok, from which he was deported to the hell of Auschwitz. He survived. But the horrors of Auschwitz left a deep mark on his personality and his art. After the war he remained for some time in Poland, studied art in Warsaw and went to Prague. In 1957, he left Poland and settled down in Paris. In 1967, he received the important prize - Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres - from the French government.
The artist's spiritual strength is not only expressed in the denunciation of the tragic past of his people, but also in his adaptation to life. His works include paintings, watercolors, drawings and etchings. His paintings of "Montmartre," the beauty of the "Judean Hills" and a "Day of Khamsin" are beautiful and strong portraits of these subjects.
To express himself, Isaac Celnikier uses a rich range of colors and a mature technique. For his canvases on the subject of the ghetto's sufferings, we owe the artist deep thanks. He gives life to what he cannot forget, and what we all forever must remember.
"This testimony, it should be noted, with all its inability to cope with the full awesomeness of the subject, is an island in the ocean of terror of the Jewish tragedy called the Holocaust, but it is given an honest expression which arouses credibility and respect. Celnikier brought with him, from the death camps, not only the heartrending outcries of the tortured but also the silence of the millions whose voice was stilled in the liquidated ghettos, in the mammoth common graves, in the gas chambers and the crematoria."
Dr. Haim Gamzu Director, The Tel Aviv Museum, 1976
"That is to say that such a work cannot be reduced to a deposition and that one can admire, with a joy mixed with painful recognition, this artist's oeuvre as it prevents the work of mourning from accomplishing the mediocre metamorphosis of a reconciliation with reality. Canvases and engravings manage to show, though without any idealization, the inalienable humanity of these beings who were warehoused, transported and 'treated' like bio-degradable garbage. For those whom form and color have restored here are no longer martyrs, nor even Jews, but simply beloved ones who were murdered, murdered ones who will always be beloved. And yet the one who sees the work of Isaac Celnikier will understand that he who wrote that love is stronger than death did not live either during or after that time."
Elisabeth de Fontenay
The works of Isaac Celnikier are found in many museums in Europe, Israel and the USA. The artist also took part in several important exhibitions: Warsaw in 1953,1956 and 1994; Denmark in 1954; France in 1962; Carpentras in 1962; Tel Aviv, Israel at the Orith Gallery in 1966; Jerusalem and Ein Harod in 1987; in 1968 even in Moscow and Peking; and numerous times in Paris, the center of art.
In 2005 the Museum of Cracow presented the exhibition "Isaac Celnikier - "Paintings,Drawings and Etchings". An important catalogue accompanied the exhibition.
The National Museum, Warsaw
Musee d'Art Moderne, Paris
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Museum of Art, Ein Harod
Lohamei Hagetthaoth Museum
Private collections in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, France, England, USA and Israel