BERLIN, BRAUNER, ELRON – JEWISH SURREALISM IN GERMANY

by Héctor Martínez Sanz

We can hear everywhere the gloomy prophecy about the end of art, especially of painting, in front of the new technologies based on speed and digitalization. It is a prophecy that feeds itself on blind speculations which are far-off from the essence of art and the artists. I saw a great opportunity to demonstrate the opposite thesis when I was invited to participate to the event that took place by the end of July, in Berlin, organized by Defeses Fine Arts PR Agency and the Jewish Cultural Magazine Niram Art Israel, entitled “Jewish Surrealism: Victor Brauner y Baruch Elron”.

Eva Defeses’ invitation (the event planner) meant a double delight for me: on the one hand, I had the opportunity to walk through Tiergarten and do some window shopping near the Zoological Garden, in front of a library opposite Gedächtniskirche, where I purchased the complete poems of Goethe, in German, five years ago; on the other hand, I enjoyed returning to Berlin, so much time afterwards, answering the call of art, in this case, of Jewish contemporary painting.

Indeed, together with Alexander P. Schmidt and Martin Schneider, we succeeded in demonstrating that neither art nor surrealism were dead, on the contrary their heart was beating more alive than ever, through the palettes and brushes of the contemporary change of generations, from Brauner to Elron. We could see that in the video-presentations on the works of the both painters, produced by Defeses Fine Arts PR Agency, in my colleagues’ words, in my own speech and also in the presentation of my forthcoming book “Baruch Elron”, dedicated to this Jewish painter and which will reach the readers and art lovers very soon.

We managed to observe that with Brauner, just as Alexander Schmidt pointed out, almost all movements from the beginning of the 20th century had co-existed: Expressionism, Dadaism, Surrealism, and Abstractionism, or, as Schneider recalled, the incredible clairvoyance of Brauner on the modern world like, for instance in “Mythologie” and “Fêtes des Mères”. Thus, we could unite in the same thread, through Surrealism, Baruch Elron’s voyage into the different styles and representational techniques of the second half of the century, beginning with the School of Vienna. It was an extraordinary accomplishment which shed light on the discovery that with only 2 great names of Jewish artists, we could tell the complete history of the art of an entire century. And that was not all. We could also go back in time until Renaissance and name El Bosco, Mantegna, enter the Spanish Baroque with Velazquez and land right into the 19th century and beginning of the next one, by the hand of Vincent van Gogh and pass to Chagall, De Chirico and Magritte.

And, in the end, we were able to unite both painters, Brauner and Elron, by the symbolic eye that both of them dwelt upon on their canvas as allegories of the human existence, just as Brauner expressed it in 1961: “My painting is autobiographical. I am telling myJewish Surrealism life. My life is extraordinary because it is universal. It also tells of primitive dreams, in their form and time (…)”; we could also tie them together by the strange creatures and suggestive metamorphosis to which both artists gave life and offered a place in their respective worlds of fantasy and imagination. Looking at the works of each of them, one can see that Baruch Elron drew from a legacy and an inheritance that were universally deposited, among others, by Victor Brauner.

Being Spanish, it was hard not to take both artists – and, in my case, especially Baruch Elron – to the cradle of Spanish art. We could not leave out Salvador Dali, for instance, and his metaphysics of the egg which he shared with Elron. In the same way, we couldn’t forget Picasso when we contemplated Brauner, both of them sharing the same reference, Paul Klee.

Moreover, I found it necessary that the public should catch traits of Baruch Elron’s work that go far beyond Surrealism. Hence, the profound humanism that transpires from his works, the strong convictions that he shows, the vital breath that he derives from our society and from the nowadays human being. Many of his paintings are what Brauner would have called “Poetry-painting”, wordless paintings that sketch the contemporary man and his troubles. I will not get weary of repeating some of Elron’s words which say something like the following: “if I could open the eyes of a small group of persons through my paintings, and warn them about the loss of personality in the modern society, then you could call me a successful painter.” This is the background on which each mark is a colorful verse that warns and counsels the spectator on his own life and existence, and by which each painting transforms itself into an act of awareness of the life and the world, and, more significantly, of the modern man, inhabitant of any space and time.

The space, in this case, was Berlin, in the conference room of a hotel where art can be found on every wall, and the time was this year, 2011. Here and now, taking the examples of Victor Brauner and, closer to us, Baruch Elron, I can affirm that art has not died; it continues to open ways, as it did in this case, from Israel and Romania, passing through Spain and into the heart of Germany.

And thus it shall continue…we will see in new Jewish painters who will open their own ways, without forgetting those who walked before them.

 

Madrid, July 25th 2011

Translation provided by Defeses Fine Arts PR Agency


Héctor Martínez Sanz

 

 

Héctor Martínez Sanz (Madrid, 1979) graduated in Philosophy from the Complutense University of Madrid and in Literature from the Cervantes Society of Madrid. Professor of Philosophy, Language and Literature in Madrid, he is the author of several books of essays, poetry and a novel. He is the founding director of the art-magazine “Madrid en Marco” and received many prizes from Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian cultural institutions.

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