Egret and crab

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We shall not forget

I don't know why I bought the painting but I felt strangely compelled. We woke up at 3:30 in the morning to drive to the Rose Bowl swap meet, where I was scheduled to return a painting to a friend who had consigned it to me. She never showed.

We walked around in the early light and viewed the morning's offerings. Pickings were slim, I did find a good buy in a gorgeous Fulper lamp whose lineage and pedigree had somehow escaped it's previous owner.

Then I saw this painting. Bizarre, gruesome. perhaps not even salable, a serious long shot. But well rendered and obviously painted with conviction, it needed a home. Dennis from Off the Wall was walking near bye and he encouraged me to go for it. I wasn't so sure. Not like you could put it over the couch in the living room. Fairly large at 30" x 36". One of the neat things about my gallery is that the offerings are so diverse that I can occasionally sneak a curveball like this over without things getting too weird. This one is pushing the boundaries.

I live by the old saying that there is somewhere an ass for every saddle.

The painting depicts the holocaust as well as all of the nazi death camps, Sobibor, Dachau, Auschwitz (where my grandmother Pesa's parents and siblings met their cruel fate), Bergen Belsen, Buchenwald, Theresienstadt, Treblinka, Chelmno, Sachsenhausen, Majdanek and Ravensbruck. Six million lights vanquished and extinguished forever.

The artist paints ovens, death trains, murder, identification tattoos, the whole horrible nightmare of the holocaust. A disturbing narrative painting, definitely not the kind of thing I run across too often. The seller was asking a lot, he finally cut his price in half and I made the deal. It was still expensive but I figured there has to be at least one more person in the world that thinks that it is interesting, if nothing else as a historical document. Perhaps an academic institution, a punk couple or maybe even an unrepentant nazi will see it as a must have? Maybe not the smartest business decision I have ever made.

It is the heaviest painting I have ever bought, in the emotional sense, that is for sure. Definitely not another still life to brighten a corner.

I didn't find out too much about the artist. Supposedly living at some point in Florida, M. Fonerman is not googleable. Perhaps he or she had survived the camps? Was he or she #247315? There was a companion painting of a boat next to it by the same artist which I did not purchase. Didn't speak too much to me.

Leslie was in the gallery yesterday and told me that she thought that it was really well painted. Actually was glad I bought it. I have been feeling guilty, with the sneaking suspicion that I could die with this one. If I do, so be it, everything is a crapshoot. It is a visual remembrance of a time of darkness that we forget at our peril.

Sometimes you just have to go with your gut instinct. Honor the memory of the people of Plotsk and Wyszkow, Warsaw and all the other ghettos and shtetls.


Sanoguy said...

I find it ironic that you posted this on 9/11 another time we shall not forget. Was that an accident???

Anonymous said...

Its a great painting! I would have bought price being no object. I buy stuff like that.


Blue Heron said...

pure coincidence, mike.

North County Film Club said...

Well crafted.(check)
Good composition. (check-sort of)
Good underlying drawing skill(check)
Heavy (check)

Ken Seals said...

There must be a companion piece out there depicting the Soviet atrocities in Poland at the close and after WWII. That equals the Nazis rape of Poland.

Anonymous said...

That painting needs to be in a museum. You should find the right place and donate it.