When it comes to
understanding the former Soviet Union, and the Jewish experience there, art
provides a unique window. One area Jewish woman-a Soviet immigrant-wants to
open this window to the community.
Natalia Kogan, of Niles, is curating
an exhibition of rarely-seen works by the late Ukrainian Jewish artist Yefim
Rudminsky. The public will have the opportunity to view approximately 20 of
Rudminsky's paintings, many reflecting Jewish themes, at Signature of Art, 715
Vernon Ave., Glencoe, on Sunday, Nov. 10, from 4 to 6 p.m. A reception is also
scheduled and admission for both is free.
"Rudminsky's art is unique in
the context of social realist art. It goes beyond it," Kogan said. During
Rudminsky's time, socialist realism was the Soviet Union's official art form
found throughout the fine arts, including music and literature.
representation of people's experience has a character of its own. He paid a lot
of attention to the uniqueness of the person," Kogan said. "The colors are
rich. Looking at his paintings is like experiencing poetry, with many levels of
Rudminsky's portraits, landscapes, Judaic imagery and more is
an emotional representation of the 20th Century Soviet Jewish experience.
"It's quietly expressive. You can look at it for a long time and find new and
interesting things," she said.
Rudminsky (1937-1994) was born in a poor
Jewish district of Kiev, Ukraine, just before World War II. When Nazis began
killing Jews, he and his mother were evacuated to a small village near
Stalingrad with his mother's sisters and their children. His father was killed
in the war.
"Hunger and cold is what I particularly remember," Rudminsky
wrote in his autobiography.
He became known as an architect after
graduating in 1962 with a major in Architecture and a minor in Fine Art from
Kiev Art University. However, his prolific work as an artist was relatively
unknown prior to his death from a heart attack at age 57. During his life,
Rudminsky produced hundreds of sketches, paintings and postcards, using
different genres, styles and techniques. For him, art was a "constant
throughout time, a steady stream through past, present and future."
Kogan has her own connection to the Soviet culture. She was born in the
Crimea, Ukraine, where she lived for 10 years until her family moved to Moscow,
Russia. They lived in Russia for two years until they moved to Chicago when
Kogan was 12.
Kogan's appreciation for art is largely due to the
influence of her cousin, Tanya Ilina, an art historian. "She often took me to
the Art Institute and showed me the paintings," Kogan said.
another layer to our lives," Kogan said. "You can look at the world from a
different point of view once you encounter art."
Kogan is curating the
exhibit as a Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago (JUF) Russian Jewish
Division Tikkun Fellowship project. A graduate of the University of Chicago,
she organizes "Art" on Thursday Evenings, a weekly art history social event for
young adults. She is proud of her Jewish artistic heritage, and the grant she
received is helping her bring the art of an extraordinary Jewish painter to
Chicago's Jewish community.
Sponsors of the event include JUF's Russian
Jewish Division, in conjunction with Signature of Art Gallery and Genesis
An additional exhibition of Rudminsky's work will be
on display from Nov. 4-16 at Richard J. Daley Center, 50 W Washington Street,
For information, visit www.juf.org/rjd.
view artworks, visit www.rudminsky.com