Fleeing the Holocaust after dropping his father in World Warfare II, 13-year-old Rene Lichtman arrived in the USA with no cash, and he didn’t communicate English. Although his life up to now had been tough, he discovered consolation and confidence in creating artwork.
From his early years in Nazi-occupied Poland to Brooklyn, N.Y., the place he attended La Guardia Excessive Faculty of Music and Artwork, and eventually to his Southfield studio, Lichtman by no means stopped drawing and portray.
Now, at age 83, he says “artwork has performed a big position, for a very long time.”
“I don’t keep in mind a time when artwork has not been essential in my life,” he says.
Working quietly — and primarily at night time — Lichtman makes use of vibrant oil paint on canvas. His earlier works have been painted in darker hues, however now he says he leans towards brilliant, nearly pastel shades.
“I’ve determined that beginning on a white canvas is simply foolish, after so a few years,” Lichtman says.
Describing himself as “very conventional,” slightly than planning or sketching out what he’ll paint, he “will get canvasses and jumps into that area with a line or some shade,” and continues from there.
Lawrence Avenue Gallery is internet hosting a solo exhibition of Lichtman’s works by way of Could 30. “Alternative/Likelihood” was impressed by Russian summary artist Wassily Kandinsky, with Lichtman taking up the artist’s concept of “level and line to airplane,” specializing in the area and course of dots and shade in artwork.
Lichtman says the “Likelihood” ingredient is what the artwork turns into as he provides extra to a portray, main to every “Alternative.” He says that call could possibly be the place to take a portray, or whether or not to maneuver on to a unique canvas altogether.
“The title of this present — from ‘Likelihood,’ no management, to ‘Alternative,’ selections — what’s left in, what’s erased, erasing the painted floor with solvent,” Lichtman says. “However that erasure leaves a hint, a part of the historical past of the method and of the work. That erasure hint turns into the brand new starting, possibly, for ‘one thing.’”
Lichtman is cofounder of the World Federation of Jewish Baby Survivors of the Holocaust and a member of Detroit Jews for Justice.
Whereas he’s captivated with activism, protesting towards anti-immigration insurance policies and actions, Lichtman makes use of his artwork as a chance to flee and time to search out calm, slightly than making political statements.
“Though I’m a severe social-justice individual, I’ve by no means completed political artwork as an grownup,” Lichtman says. “I did in my youth, based mostly on my early Holocaust historical past, however I discovered that artwork made me extra depressed. As a survivor additionally, a lot concerned in Holocaust schooling, chatting with massive teams, college students, I wanted extra emotional relaxation, calm, steadiness and concord in life and in my artwork.
“Doing artwork as a type of escapism, throughout tough instances, doesn’t should be a nasty factor. It may be a type of therapeutic, of meditation, solitude, quiet, escape from nervousness. Doing artwork will also be tough, irritating at instances, however artwork teaches one to persevere, by way of the frustration.”