by Irina Lazarev

 Shalom, 10/2016. Expanded version.

 A Special Couple

They both are talented and successful. They are relating each to the other tenderly and gently. They both succeeded in the accomplishment of their talent in various ways.         

They are supporting those who are in trouble and need. They are generous in their support of orphans and talented youth by helping them to make their most daring dreams true.

It is symbolic that at the special time of the Jewish New Year, this couple has celebrated their important personal mile-stone, as well,  the 40th anniversary of their marriage.

We can uncover the names of these fabulous people. It is Michael and Inna Rogatchi.

They are well-known in many countries world-wide. Their contribution into modern culture is very notable.  

At the very moment, at the time of their family celebration, Michael and Inna are successfully carrying on their interesting new projects.

Warmth of the Talent

Inna has recently presented her Power of Light fine art photography series on the Judaic Symbolism. These works are as if a deep breath of a fresh air, especially for those who are discovering for themselves a bottomless world of the Jewish culture. Inna also has created a short art-film featuring some of her works from the Power of Light series. The musical art video had been released to mark the High Holidays in October 2016, and it had been highly praised. The Israel National News has called the Inna Rogatchi’s new work ‘both moving and haunting, a perfect gift by the artist on Rosh HaShanah ( Jewish New Year). The video can be watched here  .

I was lucky to see the video yet before its international release, thanks to Creator for my personal acquaintance with this talented couple.  

Originally, the Power of Light series has been created a few years ago, in conjunction with the unique event, the opening of the Vilnius Public Jewish Library in the end of 2011. This kind of event had happened in Lithuania for the first time since the end of the Second World War. Since the opening, the first set of the fifteen works from the series adores the walls of the Library that has become a very popular and widely recognised centre of the Jewish culture and history in Vilnius. Along with the Inna’s art photography works there is also well-known Yiddishe Sun ( Yiddish Son) painting of Michael’s, the only oil painting which has been on the Library’s walls following the decision of their board.

Michael Rogatchi (C). Yiddishe Sun ( Yiddish Son). Oil on canvas. 2011. Vilnius Public Jewish Library. Lithuania

Four years after the Library’s opening, Inna and Michael did present the art replica of this very work to the newlywed couple in Israel. But it was not a regular wedding. Sarah-Tehiya Litman and Ariel Beigel’s marriage shook Israel to the bone. The bride’s father, Rabbi Litman, and her young brother were murdered by the Palestinian terrorists just on the eve of her wedding in November 2015.

Inna and Michael took the pain of the family close to their hearts and has organised their special gift to reach the family on the morning of the wedding which has celebrated all Israel, against all odds. A year later, just these days, in October 2016, Sarah Beigel gave a birth to their first daughter. The life is prevailing.

“ In sending this gift to the new Israeli couple under such dramatic circumstances, we wanted also to send them the message of our Jewish hope and love, ongoing and never extinguishing light of living and remembering” ,– Inna and Michael are saying.   

Indeed, it is quite clear that both Michael and Inna Rogatchis’ art is not just an art pieces. Their creations do posses tangible spiritual power.

This is what Inna has shared with us regarding their experiences: “ During the one of our previously regular visits to Ukraine where we were supporting the Jewish orphans during many years, Michael visited the house for boys where they are living. He brought with him many things, including my photography works, each framed, to be a present to each of them. We wanted to bring to those boys not only shoes, clothes and books, and sweets and cakes, but also something personal for each of them.

Michael proposed to the boys that each of them would choose the photograph that he would like the most and pick it up from the big table where all those many photographs were displayed. Naturally, he started from the smallest ones.  

There was one boy, shy and reflective. When he was invited to the table, among the first ones, he stayed there for a long time. All that time, his eyes were glued to one particular photograph. That photograph pictured many rounded challah just baked for Rosh HaShanah ( and they were backed by us). The work’s title was The Warmth of Jewish Home.

The boy did take the photograph into his hands as a treasure. He hugged the photograph – as many children orphans in their houses did, too – and he smiled so happily. We will never forget that orphan boy, with his smile, hugging the photograph that was bearing the warmth of Jewish home”,  – says Inna.

New Horizons

Inna and Michael are moving forward reaching new horizons and new dimensions of their joint life – and creativity. In November 2016, their first joint exhibition will be organised in Rome, at quite unusual, interesting and special art space, LOFT – Spazio MatER Gallery. The gallery is more than a regular art gallery. It is the place of intensive culture discussions, different art events, and it is very active as an institution in the cultural and educational activities of Rome and Italy in general. This is visible and thoughtful place, and there is no surprise to me that it is them who did organise the first joint exhibition of Inna and Michael.

The exhibition will feature ten Michael’s drawings, mostly from his Divertimento series devoted to classical music, and twenty Inna’s art photographs of her poetic and philosophical works many of which are the artist’s homage to great writers, actors and musicians, as well as the works from her Flying Thoughts series.

The exhibition’s title is At the Same Time, and the thinking of the exhibition’s curator Ilaria Sergi and her assistant Valentina Caprara behind the concept of the unusual exhibition is “ to get into the depths of the two worlds: the ones of a man and of a woman, of a painter and of an art photographer, of music and cinema; the worlds which the both  artists are implementing in their works with similar intensity, and are striving to reach the same objectives, with all the lyric that all these efforts  are encompassing”, – according to the Rogatchis exhibition’s curator Dr Ilaria Sergi.   

It seems to me that the concept of this new exhibition, with so many of its parallels, is highly symbolic in the case of the Rogatchis. Inna and Michael is, indeed, a very special tandem, a symbiosis of love, understanding and mercy.

This exhibition is no exception for the couple’s customary philanthropy. Both Inna and Michael designated several of their works for the charity purposes. The Rogatchi Foundation is running currently their international Friendly Hands campaign in support of the Italian people and communities affected by the devastating earthquake in August 2016.

Perhaps, here lays the one of the fundamental things about this couple: they are not indifferent to what is happening in our world; they are ready and willing to warm up everyone who is shivering. 

Soul Catharsis

For many, me including, the art and creativity of both Inna and Michael Rogatchi is a true soul’s catharsis. Every time, seeing any of their works, the works which are transcending the strength of creativity, I do feel real uplifting. I also am feeling powerful spiritual cleansing and moral healing.

That’s why their letters, articles, news about many of their exhibitions, presentations, events and projects are so important for me.

I hardly would be walking through tiny streets of Rome and would visit At the Same Time exhibition there. Most likely, I also would not manage to get to the grand Zion Waltz exhibition at the Menachem Begin Centre in Jerusalem in May 2017 where inaugurating exhibition of the 30 large oil canvases of Michael’s Zion Waltz series and special The Tribes series by Inna will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the re-unification of Jerusalem, the anniversary of the utmost importance for Israel and the Jewish people world-wide. The exhibition of Michael and Inna Rogatchi is organised by the decision and under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture of Israel, Municipality of Jerusalem, and many other key state organisations.

Inna Rogatchi (C). Talking to the High. Homage to S.Y. AGNON. Horizon Beyond Horizon series. Fine Art Photography. Limited Edition.

But I am so glad to know that I was the one of the first people who were lucky and privileged to see some of the works which, I am sure, will cause the admiration of thousands people who will be visiting the forthcoming joint exhibitions of Michael and Inna Rogatchi.

Think about it: a man and a woman. If they are halves of the same entity, the world around them is becoming coloured in a unique palette, and it is thoroughly joyful. The world of the Rogatchi couple is shining and happy for forty years by now. Following the Jewish tradition, I am wishing them that their happiness will last until at least 120 years.

 Art critic Irina Lazarev (C)

October 2016.

Shalom, #10, 2016. Expanded version.