Able Hand. Moshe Kupferman / Marek Chlanda

We were in Marek Chlanda’s studio.

A book with paintings was on the table.

The pictures were very intensive, intriguing. We asked: Who painted them?

Marek answered: Moshe Kupferman, a painter from Jarosław.

Günter Grass Gallery in Gdańsk, Szeroka 34/35-37
Openning: 24th of March, 6 P.M.
Exhibion: 24th of March - 3rd of June 2017
Artists: Moshe Kupferman, Marek Chlanda
Curators: Ewa Łączyńska-Widz, Piotr Stasiowski
Content-related collaboration: Igor Bloch
Artistic collaboration: Magdalena Burdzyńska, Przemysław Branas, Kaja Gliwa, Jadwiga Sawicka
Graphic design: Magdalena Burdzyńska

Our visit to Marek Chlanda's studio in Kraków took place more than two years ago. Since that time we went a long way together. It led us through Jarosław, the place where Moshe Kupferman was born. In this subcarpathian town we presented the life and work of this outstanding Polish-Israeli painter to the inhabitants who did not know about his existence. Together with Kaja Gliwa, Marek Chlanda, Igor Bloch and Przemek Branas we led a workshop on Kupferman’s work that was organised in the Art School in Jarosław. On the day of the artist’s 90th birthday, together with his children, we unveiled a memorial plaque on the wall of the house where he was born and Kapela Brodów played a special concert in his honour in the former synagogue. A guide showed us places Kupferman certainly knew and remembered from his life in Jarosław before the war, including an Art Nouveau building of the Association of Jewish Manufacturers called Yad Charusim - Able Hand.

This was the title of the exhibition we opened on December 18th 2016 in the Artistic Exhibitions Bureau (BWA) in Tarnów. We showed there, among others, Kupferman’s works brought from Lohamei Hagheta’ot (The Ghetto Fighters') kibbutz. Moshe was one of the founders of this place and his whole post-war life was connected with it. First he worked there as a bricklayer and he gradually discovered his passion as a painter. The experience of a craftsman's work is visible in his paintings, which are well worked-out and are effect of various actions: putting the paint on, drawing, scratching and ripping off some of the layers. You can find many of his signatures on several of his paintings, as if he tried to sign the time he spent on creating subsequent versions of a particular picture. To Kupferman his work of a painter was similar to the work of a kibbutz builder. He showed a great devotion to a creative act, and he worked on his paintings every day, for a couple of hours. This is where their great energy comes from. During the Able Hand exhibition in BWA in Tarnów we presented Moshe’s paintings together with the works and installations of Marek Chlanda. They constituted his intimate correspondence with his friend’s works. 

Moshe and Marek met in 1993, when Kupferman was preparing his exhibitions in Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź and the Centre of Contemporary Art in Ujazdów Castle. They presented their works together during a group exhibition Gdzie jest twój brat, Abel? (Where is your brother Abel?) in Zachęta gallery in Warszawa, 1995. There was no occasion, however, to confront their works in a form of a dialogue. Kupferman never investigated the theme of war in his works, apart from The Rift in Time series of paintings he created in 1999. After Kupferman's death, Chlanda spent a couple of days in his studio in the kibbutz in 2008. During this visit he created a series of works on canvas and cardboard, titled  After the Rift in Time. They referred to Moshe’s experience, as well as 'Acropolis' by Jerzy Grotowski and Józef Szajna and both metaphorical and literal energy one can find in the works of those artists. Both series have never been presented together until now.

After the exhibition in BWA in Tarnów we exhibit Kupferman’s and Chlanda’s paintings in Gdańsk City Gallery. They are presented in the gallery’s branch dedicated to Günter Grass at Szeroka Street. Interestingly, Grass was only one year younger than Kupferman. They both had to leave the places they were born because of the war, although their life experiences were completely different. The grid that you see in many of my works is a basic form for me - Moshe said in an interview conducted by Stuart Klawans in 1995. The horizontal lines like horizons – different viewpoints on reality – and the vertical lines are like human presences. So you could say the grid is a way of legitimizing differences. It shows that different elements - not only elements, but values – can co-exist, in multiple existences. The grid is a way of combining experiences rather than eliminating them.

The catalogue called Able Hand published by BWA Tarnów and GGM is an addition to the exhibition.

All works are Courtesy of Kupferman Collection and Sommer Contemporary Art, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź and Marek Chlanda.

Moshe Kupferman
Was born on August 12th 1926 in Jarosław. His parents had gentlemen and children confection store. He went to a Hebrew Tarbut school and celebrated his bar mitzvah less than a month before II World War's outbreak. In 1941, together with his family, he was deported to isolation camps in Kazakhstan and Ural mountains. After the war, he went back to Poland first, but then quickly emigrated to Germany, where he joined the Dror Youth Movement and lived in a DPs camp. In 1948 he went to Israel, where he was one of the co-founders of Lohamei Haghetaot (The Ghetto Fighters') kibbutz.  He worked there as a bricklayer and simultaneously developed his painting skills. As an outstanding painter, he had numerous individual exhibitions, in such places as the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Haifa Museum of Art, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, the Centre Pompidou and the Museum of Jewish Art and History in Paris. His works were also presented during many group exhibitions, like the XLII Venice Biennale, the ones in Worcester Art Museum in the USA, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or The Jewish Museum in New York. In Poland his art was exhibited in Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, the Centre of Contemporary Art in Ujazdów Castle and Zachęta National Gallery of Art. He died on January 20th 2003 in The Ghetto Fighters’ kibbutz.

Marek Chlanda
Was born on Novemver 12th 1954 in Kraków. He is a drawer, a graphic artist, a sculptor, a performer and an author of installations. He studied at the Department of Graphics of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków and graduated in 1978. He had individual exhibitions in Galerie Kanal 2 in Copenhagen, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Budapest Galeria in Budapest, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warszawa, Curt Marcus Gallery and Kentler International Drawing Space in New York, Muzalewska Gallery and the National Museum in Poznań, Bunkier Sztuki gallery and MOCAK in Kraków, Foksal Gallery in Warszawa, among others. He participated in the following group exhibitions: 11 Biennale de Paris in Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 22 Bienal de Sao Paulo, The First Gwangju Biennale, and the ones in: Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Third Eye Centre in Glasgow, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin, Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art in Kyongju, Mucsarnok in Budapest, Chicago Cultural Center, MUHKA Antwerpen, BWA Tarnów, National Art Museum of China NAMOG, Beijing. He lives in Kraków.

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The exhibition in part of the Year of Avant-Garde - the centenary of avant garde in Poland, celebrated in 2017 under the honorary patronage of UNESCO
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