Isiu Scharf: Blog http://isiuscharf.com/blog en-us (C) Haim Baron isiuscharfpainting@gmail.com (Isiu Scharf) Mon, 03 Jul 2017 20:34:00 GMT Mon, 03 Jul 2017 20:34:00 GMT http://isiuscharf.com/img/s/v-5/u317531491-o459602951-50.jpg Isiu Scharf: Blog http://isiuscharf.com/blog 90 120 Couple’s Basement Hosts 1,000-Piece Art Gallery - By Rachel Winicov - June 28, 2017 http://isiuscharf.com/blog/2017/7/couple-s-basement-hosts-1-000-piece-art-gallery

Sari and Haim Baron in their basement gallery in Wynnewood. | Photo by Rachel Winicov

From the outside, it looks like any of the other perfectly manicured estates that populate suburban Wynnewood.

Beyond the Tudor-style brick walls, however, the residence of Haim and Sari Baron claims the international feat as the home of the largest collection of work from Israeli-Romanian artist Isiu Scharf.

Close to 1,000 pieces spanning Scharf’s long career hang on the walls of the Barons’ home. The bulk of the art rests in the basement, where it commands a busy two-room gallery, stacked table-to-ceiling with Scharf originals and some prints.

The couple, originally from Israel themselves, bought the pieces from the artist’s daughter, Karla. After inheriting a tremendous collection incapable of fitting in her Rehovot apartment, Karla readily accepted Haim Baron’s impromptu offer to buy the collection outright in 2002.

For Haim Baron, the opportunity to preserve history held personal importance; Isiu Scharf was his cousin. Baron’s grandmother was also Scharf’s aunt, and she sponsored the artist’s immigration to Israel in 1974.

Despite the familial ties, the Barons said they wish they knew Scharf better.

“He was very reserved, very quiet,” Sari Baron remembered.

Haim Baron agreed.

“We didn’t know him very well,” he said, though the artist gifted the couple a work for their wedding and painted them a scene of a beloved winery before it was knocked down.

An example of Isui Scharf’s mixed-media work. | Photo by Rachel Winicov

Scharf’s professional work covers an array of subjects, from scenes of Jaffa markets and Israeli landscapes to painted interpretations of the work of Yiddish authors Sholem Aleichem and I.L. Peretz.

“The variety is almost unbelievable,” Sari Baron marveled, looking around the gallery. She noted the multitude of textures and materials used in the art, from gouache to monotype to oil.

Haim Baron emphasized the deeper meaning behind each work, noting “every picture has a story.” Many of the pieces contain a caption, often a humorous Yiddish quip scribbled in pencil by Scharf.

Born in 1913 in what is now Ukraine, Scharf served in the Red Army during World War II. He worked as a stage artist after the war, designing sets and costumes for the Iasi National Theatre and the State Jewish Theater in Bucharest.

After his move to Israel in 1974 with wife Ester and Karla, Scharf taught painting at a kibbutz and continued to paint Yiddish folklore and poems.

Material wealth never concerned the painter, the Barons said.

“He didn’t care about money or prestige,” Sari Baron noted, explaining that he painted with whatever was on hand simply for the joy of the art.

By day, Haim and Sari Baron work as the owners of Kitchen Technology, a kitchen and bathroom remodeling firm. But their focus recently has shifted from architecture to art, Haim Baron said. On June 15, he jetted to Germany to show photographs of Scharf’s art in the Documenta 14 art exhibition.

“When we turn the lights off, it’s dark in here,” Haim Baron said, demonstrating the limited accessibility of the basement gallery beyond family and friends. He hopes to change that with his renewed focus on the art world.

To introduce Scharf to a wider audience, the collectors have held three open houses, but attendance has been spotty. Haim Baron said future plans include showings at local synagogues and Jewish institutions.

A self-portrait of the artist. | Photo by Rachel Winicov

Haim Baron also posts photographs of the art in online galleries. Viewable at isiuscharf.com and on Facebook under “Isiu Scharf 1913-1997,” he said he hoped the internet will create new admirers of Scharf.

The Barons noted that Scharf’s work lacks the recognition of many of his contemporaries. A possible explanation lies in the ample Yiddish cultural references in the paintings, they said.

“It’s a lot of Jewish humor, Jewish work,” Sari Baron said. “I don’t know if people wanted that.”

Despite that, the Barons proudly display the artwork on nearly every wall in their house. In the gallery, paintings jostle in piles on tables and line the walls floor-to-ceiling.

Maintaining it all involves a lot of care, Sari Baron said.

“Everything has to remain a certain temperature,” to preserve different mediums. In sifting through a pile, she noticed two works were stuck together and delicately pried the corners away from each other.

“It’s a lot,” she said, looking around again. “It’s really a lot.”

http://jewishexponent.com/2017/06/28/couples-basement-hosts-1000-piece-art-gallery/

 

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isiuscharfpainting@gmail.com (Isiu Scharf) Israel Scharf czernowitz haim baron isiu isiu scharf isiu scharf artist isiu scharf jewish artist jewish artist scharf yiddish http://isiuscharf.com/blog/2017/7/couple-s-basement-hosts-1-000-piece-art-gallery Mon, 03 Jul 2017 19:04:13 GMT
Isiu Scherf, The Jewish Artist Article http://isiuscharf.com/blog/2016/9/isiu-scherf-the-jewish-artist-article The Art Section                                                         "WINDOWS"                                          By: Grigory Ostrovsky

August 31, 2015

SCHÄRF, THE JEWISH ARTIST

Top: Cain and Abel

 Bottom:" The Travels of Binyamin the Third"

Mendele Mocher Sforim

                        Shabbat

It must be true that Jews are a nation endowed with a rare wealth of talent – otherwise, would we ever permit ourselves to treat talent so wastefully?  Indeed, even a multi-millionaire is only rich because he is never too lazy to bend over and pick up that coin…

 

This, however, is just an aside thought – let us now talk about Isiu Scherf (1913 – 1995), an artist both unique and at the same time very characteristic of that branch of Jewish culture which is customarily referred to as Ashkenazi-Yiddish culture.  I. Scherf's personality and his creative work are yet another proof that Yiddish culture is not just a relic of the past, of a world that is no longer – but rather a starved and wounded, but still lively old tree – with a sparse transparent crown but powerful deep-reaching roots, capable of blossoming with fruitful young shoots.

 

From early childhood, Isiu Scherf spoke, thought and created in Yiddish.  His adolescence and young adulthood passed amid the Jewish intelligentsia of Bukovina and Chernovtsy, a rich cultural environment saturated with the language.  Even as a child, he enjoyed drawing more than anything – yet he did not receive a formal art education, save for lessons at a private studio of a painter named Levental.  Isiu Scherf's creative career began at the age of 20, when he started working as the artist of Chameleon - the Jewish theater of Chernovtsy.  From that point onward, the bumpy and not particularly profitable path of a Jewish stage artist becomes his main line of work, with occasional forages into easel painting, graphic art and book illustration.  His first exhibition took place as early as 1936, followed by a series of post-war personal exhibitions in Iași and Bucharest.

 

The war years – fighting at the front lines and then in the infamous "labor army" – were a harsh test, yet these trials and tribulations saved Scherf from certain death at the hands of the Nazis.  After the war, Isiu Scherf moves to Romania and settles in Iasi, the cradle of Yiddish theater.  As the chief artist of the Jewish Theater in Iasi for 12 years, Scherf takes credit for over 50 stage productions – both classical (Jewish and international) and modern plays.  He also worked for puppet theaters, and in the 1960 served as the leading stage artist of the State Jewish Theater in Bucharest.  All we have today is a dim reflection of his work as a stage artist afforded by a handful of sketches and photographs, along with witness accounts.  It seems clear, however, that he was far from flatly depicting simple life scenes – rather, his stage sets sought to capture the notional quality of a theatrical show and the rich symbolism of the stage metaphor.  Among his most notable works was the stage set for The Travels of Binyamin the Third, a play based on a novel by Mendele Mocher Sforim that was staged at the theater in Iasi, where the visual representation of Tuneyadovka became a colorful and rich allegory on the proverbial shtetl and its spiritual life.

In 1973, the artist immigrates to Israel.  His talent and experience as a stage artist remained uncalled for.  Once, when the famous Ida Kaminsky was to travel to Israel from Warsaw, she left her own stage artist behind: "Isiu Scherf is there!"  Their creative partnership was a major success, yet it heralded no change of fortune for the artist: Israeli theater did not accept and did not understand the Jewish stage artist.  For some time, Isiu Scherf lived at Kibbutz Giv'at Brenner, then in Rechovot where he taught drawing at Community Centers; several exhibitions of his paintings were held in Tel-Aviv, Ashkelon, Rishon-le-Zion and Rechovot.  Still, no recognition or fame came his way: neither museums nor private collectors or critics took any interest.


 

"The Great Shabbat, or the Short Friday"

Sholem Aleichem

"Jew Traveling to Eretz Israel, his Eyes Red with Tears" – Folk Song Illustration

 

 

The artist's record may not appear particularly impressive – but in art, one's worth is weighed not in awards and titles but on the scales of true talent.  Isiu Scherf, stage artist and painter, worked in oil, watercolor, gouache, drew in pencil and ink, created monotypes and unique collages, as well as an art-form of his own invention – cardboard cut-outs, black on white.

 

In every genre and technique, in Chernovtsy or in Iasi, in Bucharest or Rechovot – he remained uniquely himself, a very Jewish artist immersed in the element of Yiddish culture - artistic, poetic, musical, spiritual and mundane.  His drawings, filled with inner light, humor, kind irony and warmth accompany the series of lullabies written by his close friend, composer Leibu Levin; he illustrated children's and other folk songs; one of his largest projects was a 50-page cycle of graphics under the title "Jewish Sayings and Proverbs", where each sheet wins you over with the sharp wit of folk quips, brilliantly laconic silhouettes and compositions and expressive artistic language.

 

The artistic stature of this remarkable series is comparable with the album of easel paintings tracing the motifs of Jewish literary classics – books by I. L. Peretz, Moicher-Sforim, Sholem Aleichem and others.  (Sholem Aleichem's books were most tenderly and unwaveringly adored by the artist, and it was to him that Scherf dedicated more artworks than to all other authors put together).   In these compositions, the artistic narrative describing the life of the shtetl takes a step back, giving way to clear and lapidary graphic "formulas" conveying the concentrated essence of the storyline yet retaining the charm of intimate knowledge, both of literary material and of the life it depicts.

 

The same pattern of stylistic, nay, ideological evolution can be traced in Isiu Scherf's paintings.  His artistic legacy contains quite a few genre scenes ("Jew with Goat" and others), where the innumerable Kasrilevkes and their inhabitants are depicted in the customary realistic manner, truthfully and feelingly, with such characteristically Jewish sad humor.  Gradually, however, the constraints of life-likeness grow too tight for I. Scherf as he takes a turn for the extremely expressive and intense language of symbols and allegories, periphrases and plastic metaphors.  Perhaps this can be viewed as an effort to overcome "shtetl provincialism", to partake in the more modern trends of imaginative thinking.

 

Indeed, we may not be looking at a change in style as much as at changing times, the passage of Time with the capital "T", on the global historical scale.  The Holocaust of European Jewry during World War II (in Iasi alone, in just one day, more than 12,000 Jews were murdered at gunpoint) marked a deep rapture in the fabric of ethnic being, the total destruction of Jewish shtetels, big and small – from Yegupetz to Tuneyadovka, and with them, the death of the immense richness of Yiddish culture that had thrived for centuries.

Isiu Scherf's outlook on life has always been quite far from idyllic emotionalism, and now, after he survives, processes, internalizes the tragedy of the Holocaust, lets it go right through his heart and soul, it takes on a pronounced dramatic quality.

XXX

The Wall

The artist's pallet is wrought with reflections of blood and fire – like flares in the viscous stuff of somber color.

In Isiu Scherf's art, this drama is realized not on the narrative, thematic level of specific events, but rather in the sphere of personal and ethnic self-identification, the feeling of being connected blood-and-sinew with the fate of his people; in the deep, secretive layers of Jewish mentality and Jewish spirituality, coded in ancient and new symbols.  The bearers of this spirituality are mostly old men and little children; their primary wisdom and moral purity enter into complex interaction with the world of things (clocks, books, etc.) and symbolic animals.  From the reality of being, people disappear into the un-being of sunken Atlantis, and return to us again from their un-being…  And then the score of the Requiem no longer leaves any space for the comfort of tears behind laughter, or, if you will, for the salvation of laughter through tears.

Isiu Scherf's artworks have no "trade dress" – this aspect never concerned him.  On the contrary – the artist, at a rather advanced age, as they would call it, willingly sets out on courageous experiments, inventively working with three-dimensional textures: indeed, some of his paintings can be described as "sculpture-paintings".  Collage becomes his favorite genre, and no material is too unusual to use – wood, metal, leather, glass, paper, bindings and pages of ancient books, etc.  Their conjunction, juxtaposition, mutual continuity and contrast create an effect of multiple layers of meaning, both in content and in form.  The principle and technique of collage naturally overflow onto the frames of the paintings:  Isiu Scherf always created a unique, one-of-a-kind frame for each painting – not a mere setting but an idea, not so much a commentary on the mood and central thought of the painting, but a different angle of view on those.

Isiu Scherf lived in Israel for over 20 years; he worked hard, created paintings – both smaller, chamber canvasses, and very unusual landscapes; taught art and had an occasional exhibition.  His sense of soft, harmless humor never betrayed him; he lived in modest dignity, unpretentious and un-resentful, content within his small circle of loved ones, friends and a handful of colleagues. 

The affluent Israeli society, the establishment that shunned, or by any measure, grossly undervalued Yiddish culture never did notice Isiu Scherf – an immensely talented and very Jewish painter, graphic and stage artist.  And if there is such a thing as historical justice, then Isiu Scherf's art, even belatedly, will surely take its rightful place in the future history of Jewish art – be it "Yiddish" or "Hebrew" – of the second half of the past century.

 

Art photography: Boris Krishtul

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isiuscharfpainting@gmail.com (Isiu Scharf) Israel Scharf czernowitz haim baron isiu isiu scharf isiu scharf artist isiu scharf jewish artist jewish artist scharf yiddish http://isiuscharf.com/blog/2016/9/isiu-scherf-the-jewish-artist-article Wed, 14 Sep 2016 18:04:35 GMT
Isiu Scharf "It’s the Dream that Counts" By: Arie Dreyfus http://isiuscharf.com/blog/2016/9/isiu-scharf-it-s-the-dream-that-counts-by-arie-dreyfus
Isiu Scharf

It’s the Dream that Counts

By: Arie Dreyfus

Haifa, Israel

 

He was as solitary in death as he had been in life. And yet most of his loved ones stood by his bed in his last moments. Each and everyone striving in his own peculiar way to lighten the dire burden. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that his relations with his close relatives had always been what they could or should have been. It was just the correct expected behavior of normal people composing with the imminent departure of the family prow figure. The moribund was the only one among them who had staunchly stuck to his chosen way for a life time. No new flame bearer was in sight in his special cultural niche. His final achievements may not really measure up to his starting ambitions, yet he had every right to expect to be remembered as one of the Jewish favorite sons. If in an ever faster changing world cultural heroes we still to be found, Isiu was it.

 

As countless other innocent Jewish children, Isiu had spent crucial years of his adolescence in detention. Luckier than most, he had survived. Although most of his jailers had been fellow Rumanians he bore them no ill will at liberation time.

 

‘War has changed the mentalities, it’s the beginning of a new world’ he confidently declared to his few remaining Jewish relations.

A few short years later, bruised in more ways than one, Isiu had to concede he had impulsively misconceived the new world order. Peace and prosperity indeed, but not for everyone. The rejected Jewish student embarked on an agonizing soul searching journey. He emerged a man, his mind set. He had a plan, his future was clearly delineated. He wouldn’t debase himself and flee away, nor would he try to forsake his origins. Isiu, however, wasn’t born a natural leader. Nature hadn’t endowed him with any notable asset. No imposing physical stature and no magnetic stare to electrify inimical audiences.

 

Furthermore, he had to contend with the damages years of detention had inflicted. A life-long uphill battle in such conditions was not a happy prospect. Isiu may not have been graced by the looks of a legendary hero, but he was fast turning into one. His mother had taught him modesty, his father the inherent value of skepticism. His character shaped by both parental education and harsh life – experiences made no allowances for self-delusions. He knew himself to be an interesting story teller and a quite gifted expressive painter. A far more mature man than his age would let, suppose he logically concluded that his only hope of attaining any kind of public influence was through creativity.

 

‘Unfortunately, I couldn’t even afford myself the luxury of knowing I would never achieve the reputation of Einstein, Chagall, or Modigliani to stand in my way. He admitted years later the Yiddish culture was agonizing; it needed an immediate revival campaign.

 

It was not a light decision. Most of the Shoah survivors instinctively spent their remaining years seeking material compensations. All the more so since Society at large in the after-war years had but one uniting goal, to enjoy the benefits of materialism. As a by-product, it was also cagily doing all it could to distance and absolve itself from its shady past.

 

Isiu belonged to that special very rare brand of human beings, the totally committed idealists. The ridiculed, despised, ostracized, ugly little Jew never looked back once his mind was made.  

As an artist Isiu was undoubtedly among the chosen ones. He had the magic touch, a seemingly inexhaustible gift to make his inner world come alive. People the world over, Jews and gentiles alike could, more often than not, easily relate to his works. His ‘Golem’ for instance has always been firmly stuck in the wall above my bureau whether in ravaged Africa, opulent Europe or renascent Israel. So far it has left no onlooker indifferent. Art profanes like me think this picture is very near perfection. It’s the most eloquent description of both human’s folly and grandeur. The Golem belongs to nowhere and to no one; he is a kind of angelic dream that isn’t really expected to materialize. A typical Jewish approach to transcendental aspirations.

 

We were personally luckier than most. Over the years Isiu, never greedy, has let us acquire a few of his masterpieces for practically nothing. In many respects that have found their place as vital cherished loved members of our family. To mention that life hasn’t always been good to him would be an ironic understatement. And yet this proud extraordinary man always managed to find almost adequate solutions to his financial troubles. Rejected by the Europeans who did not really appreciate his tenacious reminder of what they were struggling to forget Isiu made Alya hoping to find here greener pastures. The Jewish troubadour who had stored whole chapters of Yiddish fantasy in his elephantine memory was not really welcomed here. He made no personal demands. The reconnaissance of the Jewish saga in Eastern Europe as an essential component of Israel’s struggle was all he was asking for.

 

The establishment showed no interest in yet another historical vindication of a past well on its way to oblivion. Isiu never achieved the public consecration he was due as a troubadour of the Jewish culture. Israel isn’t and has never been a dreamer’s haven. Critics simply taxed his ‘art’ as an irrelevant thing of the past. The new generations felt little if any bonds even with such figures as the beautiful ‘Margaritkelech’ imprisoned for life behind trees. Studious Jewish scholars, dreaming at night on their yeshiva stools held no more appeal. The marvelous scenes of the never ending diversity of the Yiddish tradition were as strange to them as life on another planet. In Israel, anywhere else, the struggle to conquer a dwindling audience proved itself to be harsher than expected.

‘But it’s the dream that counts and ours has had the upper hand’, he would smilingly retort.

 

Isiu was certainly not a model bread earner but his paintings, whether the pure product of his immigration or an accolade to a way of life long forgotten rank with the best, artistically wise. On the moral front however he has fared better. He has built himself an honorable if somewhat limited reputation as one of the last heralds of a waning past. His works have been on display in some of the principal cultural centers of the country. People came, took a look and came again. Pupils often got there, their first and only exposure of something of their grandparent’s world. Mush to their surprise they discovered the happiness, the human warmth, the humor and the all-encompassing love flowing from Isiu’s reminiscences.

 

The Nazis were adamant; they had undertaken to erase all traces of the Jewish soul and spirit in this world. But for a few heroic dedicated minds like Isiu’s their malignant scheme would have come true. Some sort of immanent poetic justice has made it possible to pay tribute to Isiu, the lonely tenacious dreamer. Once again the Jewish will of life, he so cherished, has prevailed. At a price, even a very heavy and thoroughly unjustified one for Isiu. His fixation on Yiddish motives has drastically undersized the scope of both his audience and his revenues. Israel should be taken to task. It should have done all in its power to make this vital voice of the past echo more widely.

 

Still thanks to Isiu, the dedicated narrator, some of our past culture has survived. It has played an inestimable role in helping us to come to terms with ourselves as a nation. That’s exactly what he had set his mind to achieve. He has left us, but his dream is alive, stronger than ever. That’s what really counts.  

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isiuscharfpainting@gmail.com (Isiu Scharf) Israel Scharf czernowitz haim baron isiu isiu scharf isiu scharf artist isiu scharf jewish artist jewish artist scharf yiddish http://isiuscharf.com/blog/2016/9/isiu-scharf-it-s-the-dream-that-counts-by-arie-dreyfus Wed, 14 Sep 2016 15:10:49 GMT
Collection http://isiuscharf.com/blog/2015/12/collection

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isiuscharfpainting@gmail.com (Isiu Scharf) Israel Scharf czernowitz haim baron isiu isiu scharf isiu scharf artist isiu scharf jewish artist jewish artist scharf yiddish http://isiuscharf.com/blog/2015/12/collection Tue, 15 Dec 2015 20:25:00 GMT
The Rediscovery of a Yiddish Master Painter From Czernovitz http://isiuscharf.com/blog/2014/9/the-rediscovery-of-a-yiddish-master-painter-from-czernovitz Collector Seeks To Reintroduce Isiu Schärf to the World

Courtesy of Haim Baron

The Megile of Isiu Schärf: The artist was an acquaintance of the Yiddish writer Itzik Menger.


By Julia M. Klein

Published July 11, 2013, issue of July 12, 2013.

In 2002, during a visit to his native Israel, Haim Baron’s mother urged him to buy one of his cousin Isiu Schärf’s artworks. Baron had seen some of Schärf’s work before in the apartment of his maternal grandmother, Schärf’s aunt, who had sponsored the artist’s emigration from Romania to Israel in 1974. And Baron and his wife Sari had received a painting from Schärf as a wedding gift.

Baron went to the home of the late artist’s daughter Karla, who had stored his work in a locked room in the modest two-room apartment where Schärf and her mother had lived. It was located on the third floor of a row house in Rehovot, Israel, a few miles from Tel Aviv, Baron says. A tenant rented the other room.

“We set an appointment,” Baron recalled in an interview at his Tudor-style home outside Philadelphia. “The apartment was totally dark, the shutters were down. When she turned the lights on, I saw shelves packed with cardboard files. I couldn’t even move inside. I was looking through one of them, and I liked every single picture. I didn’t know what to do.”

Schärf’s works encompassed a range of styles, subjects and media: Expressionist-influenced portraits, Impressionist landscapes, collages and ink drawings, prints and paintings based on motifs and scenes in Yiddish literature. These last were Baron’s favorites.

Noting his indecision, Karla offered to give him three paintings if he bought just one.

“I told her, ‘Karla, I’d like to buy the whole collection’ — just out of the blue. She said, ‘Really? I need the room. I need to empty the house.’”

And, so, for a few thousand dollars, it was done: Baron, a 64-year-old architect specializing in kitchen and bathroom design, and his wife Sari, who manages their Ardmore, Pennsylvania, showroom, became the owners of some 600 works by a Romanian-Jewish artist who had known the Yiddish writer Itzik Manger and whose life spanned the cataclysms of the 20th century.

Isiu (short for Isidore) Schärf was born a century ago, in 1913, in Czernovitz, a town that passed from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to Romania to present-day Ukraine. “Not much later began to paint, neither better nor worse than others of that period,” he wrote, according to an introduction to an album of his work assembled in 1969 in Rehovot. The album included images inspired by the work of Sholem Aleichem and I.L. Peretz, among others.

“His art has to do with Judaism,” says Baron, “and it has to do with the human spirit, and it has to do with the Jewish struggle. It has a very mysterious quality, and he was deeply involved, rooted, in the Jewish Diaspora culture of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and a lot of these artworks are related to the literature of the various Yiddish poets and authors.”

Schärf designed his first stage sets for the “Camelion Theatre” of Czernowitz in 1934-35 and exhibited with other young Jewish painters in that city in 1935-36. In 1939, with war looming, he illustrated a book of Yiddish lullabies.

The Barons say that Schärf ’s parents died in the Holocaust. Schärf fought in the Soviet Army during World War II and lived in the Ural region (which overlaps Siberia) afterward. The Barons have watercolors, titled “Ural” and dated from 1942 and 1943, depicting mountains, a marketplace and houses under construction.

From 1950 to 1962, Schärf reportedly designed over 50 productions for the Yiddish State Theatre of Jassy, Romania, as well as creating designs for a puppet theater and exhibiting his work. In the 1960s, he designed sets and costumes for the Yiddish State Theatre of Bucharest, another city where his artwork was exhibited.

According to Baron, his grandmother tried for years to bring Schärf, who was her brother’s son, to Israel. He finally emigrated with his wife and grown daughter, Karla, an engineer. Karla died in 2010.

Sari Baron says she has powerful memories of Schärf. “I remember him tall, thin, and always laughing — always a smile on his face,” she says. “The only thing he wanted was to paint. He didn’t care about money at all. He even smiled when he didn’t have food to eat. He was always happy, probably because he had all this art in him.”

In Israel, Haim Baron says, Schärf worked as a high school art teacher at a kibbutz and created more stage sets. Sari Baron says that Tel Aviv’s Emalia Arbel Gallery sponsored an exhibition of his work in a historical building in the Barons’ hometown of Rishon LeZion.

The Barons have hung Schärf’s work throughout their house, but much remains stored haphazardly in their basement, where they regularly discover new treasures.

Schärf’s landscapes and cityscapes from his years in Israel — Sari Baron’s favorites — employ a lighter palate than his earlier works and reflect Impressionist influences. By contrast, some of Schärf’s portraits are reminiscent of the work of Soutine and other Expressionists. Other paintings evoke Chagall’s whimsy and use of color. Some self-portraits are done with collage. One drawing shows Schärf with a long face, large ears and unruly hair. “I think he looked very Romanian,” Sari Baron says.

Schärf’s sense of humor emerges most clearly in his prints, including one whose Yiddish title is translated as “Gentile Heaven.” At its center is an enticing image of nude women and wine; on opposite sides, an Orthodox Jewish man and woman pretend to cover their eyes while sneaking peeks at the forbidden vision.

In addition to the Yiddish folkloric scenes, Haim Baron is partial to a semi-abstract, energetically colored work featuring several fish. “Even in the fish you can see some human expression,” he says.

The Barons say they wish they knew more about Schärf. “He didn’t have an easy life,” Sari Baron says. “We didn’t probably ask him the right questions. [After his death], we thought, ‘Why didn’t we ask more?’ The frustration is unbelievable.”

But now, in Schärf’s centenary year, they long most for importance and value of his work. “We want him to be discovered as an artist,” Haim Baron says.

Julia M. Klein is a cultural reporter and critic in Philadelphia and a contributing editor at Columbia Journalism Review.


Read more: http://forward.com/articles/179819/the-rediscovery-of-a-yiddish-master-painter-from-c/?p=all#ixzz2ZKVzn1In

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isiuscharfpainting@gmail.com (Isiu Scharf) Israel Scharf czernowitz haim baron isiu isiu scharf isiu scharf artist isiu scharf jewish artist jewish artist scharf yiddish http://isiuscharf.com/blog/2014/9/the-rediscovery-of-a-yiddish-master-painter-from-czernovitz Mon, 08 Sep 2014 19:35:46 GMT