Colette Leinman

Israel: “At night I will draw suns” presents the Holocaust in a new way – I24NEWS

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Colette Leinman signs with this new exhibition an artistic encounter that leaves no one indifferent

Transmitting the unspeakable through art while giving free rein to everyone’s imagination. In a fascinating exhibition “At night I will draw suns”, Colette Leinman approaches the Holocaust by means of different mediums which create a universe that is both subtle and striking. Paintings, collages, drawings or even tattoos on imitation leather skin provoke an indescribable feeling in the visitor, the meaning of which he will seek throughout the journey. Fond of details and a meticulously chosen symbolism that she breathes into each of her works, Colette plunges the viewer into a unique experience, at the crossroads between the imaginary and the real, aesthetics and knowledge. An ambivalence that will be the common thread of this exhibition put together by Adi Angel, on the occasion of the commemoration of International Holocaust Day on January 27, in which Ms. Leinman unveils for the first time her works that until then have remained hidden, made between 1994 and 2022, which remain timeless. A sumptuous journey through history, at Beit Yad Lebanim in Rishon Lezion (20 Ehad Aham) until February 2.

As soon as you enter, the visitor is caught by the photo of a commemorative plaque for those killed in deportation and of a stele filled with ashes in front of the synagogue in Rouen, where Colette is from.

“I wanted to start this exhibition with a personal story. My father was a prisoner of war in the same camp as Levinas and when he returned, he was appointed Minister of Israelite Worship in Rouen. After the war, a new, very modern synagogue was built. was built where the list of names of the deported victims appeared as well as the urn with the ashes that had been brought from Auschwitz. Our apartment was adjacent to it and I therefore passed several times a day in front of these names that I read; I I then understood that these people could no longer live and it was then that I became aware of my mission: to live, to sing, to dance and to give my life meaning by carrying within me all these people who ‘weren’t so lucky,” Colette Leinman told i24NEWS.

Caroline Haiat/i24NEWS“At night I will draw suns”, Colette Leinman

faces from oblivion

On the wall, dozens of portraits of children on parchment paper are arranged, sometimes on top of each other, echoing the piling up of bodies in trains or gas chambers. These children all have different expressions but most have their eyes closed, are smiling, dreaming or sleeping. The artist wanted to represent carelessness and innocence: they do not know that they are going to be exterminated and are therefore not worried. Some faces stare at us while others look away, but the visitor who knows their sad fate finds themselves helpless in the face of these broken destinies. Colette Leinman offers here an indirect awareness of the immensity of the Nazi horror by materializing the memory of the absent, which she thus makes present.

“I did not want a transparent or opaque support and if I may say so, it is symbolic because this paper is oven-safe but does not burn. Most children are still happy and this is an essential key to remember, I do not didn’t want to fall into pathos,” she said. This hope, on which the artist relies, is also found in the title of the exhibition, inspired by the work of Boris Cyrulnik At night, I will write suns. “It evokes hope and resilience despite suffering and that’s exactly the message I wanted to deliver: in any situation, you can hold on to life and get through it.”

“The Burning House”

In one of her paintings, Colette highlights the theme of the “burning house” in reference to the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust. By depicting a house without a roof and without a foundation, in perspective, made up of Nazi stamps, she shows that even when the Jewish people are faced with destruction, they rebuild themselves ad infinitum. The habitat not anchored in a space can thus move and multiply without limits, like a people that we wanted to exterminate and who are still very much present today.

Caroline Haiat/i24NEWS
Caroline Haiat/i24NEWSThe house is burning, Colette Leinman

“With engraving and collages, I seek to convey the idea of ​​continuity. It evokes the Jewish people who survived barbarism, and the will to annihilate an entire people in an organized way. We see the light at the end of the tunnel. The armless figure in the foreground walks and thinks, guided by the spiritual. He keeps going despite the horror,” she explains.

Tension between the life drive and the atrocities of Nazism

In the gallery, the entire space has been taken over. On the ground, collages of deconstructed and reconstructed geometric bands evoke a kind of mental dam but also the railways of death trains.

“I wanted to have the works on the ground to demonstrate that the deportees who arrived in the camps were not going where they wanted, they had no freedom of movement. Thanks to these bands which act as a marker on the ground, I represents the barriers,” says Colette.

Caroline Haiat/i24NEWS
Caroline Haiat/i24NEWS“At night I will draw suns”, Colette Leinman

On huge frescoes glued to the wall, Colette Leinman reproduces decomposed maps of camps, which she recreates with arrows for the exit which is in reality a dead end, barbed wire, labyrinths without exit, black bands, cut lines and reassembled in the manner of a plan that reflects the ordered Nazi spirit whose initial configuration the artist endeavors to upset here. “I invented signs and a language to express what no one can say,” says Colette.

Deformed Hitler’s stamp, caricatured German eagles, or even displays of the 1936 Olympics and German music scores, so many allusions to the Nazi regime that the artist inserted by small touches, to illustrate the phenomenon of reverse destruction of superiority of German culture. The Jewish people now have the upper hand over the Nazi enemy.

The symbolism of the reverse tattoo

This same logic can also be seen in two works made from imitation leather that the artist describes as “tattoos” because they echo the numbers tattooed on the arms of the deportees. Mrs. Leinman approaches the glorification of Aryan motherhood by carving a female figure and her child into leather, using holes and ink.

“I was inspired by a postcard that I received then I looked for a skin fabric, Skai and I imitated the color of the flesh and then I made holes with a roller to tattoo the support. The Jews know very well the relationship to the tattoo but I did it by reversing the common model. Here the Germans find themselves tattooed, I put them face to face with the worst they have done for a Jew; because the tattoo is sin. In the 2nd work, I tattooed the Jewish mother, naked ready to go to the gas chamber, modest who hides the body. It is one of the rare appearances of a naked Jewish woman ” says Colette, who claims to want to convey physical sensations to the visitor.

Caroline Haiat/i24NEWS
Caroline Haiat/i24NEWSAryan Motherhood Tattoo, Colette Leinman

On leaving, the visitor comes across a blue canvas which at first glance could symbolize hope but in reality represents the blue stains left by Zyklon B on the walls of the gas chambers. “There is a kind of clash between what we feel and what we understand. I did not want to paint blue directly but rather to restore the process as such as material. I thus superimposed blue spots. This very beautiful blue catches our eye but its meaning challenges and, I think that sums up my message well: the body must first experiment with the senses before the brain receives the explanations”, she concludes.

Caroline Haiat/i24NEWS
Caroline Haiat/i24NEWS“At night I will draw suns”, Colette Leinman

Colette Leinman signs with this new exhibition an artistic encounter that leaves no one indifferent. Graduated with a doctorate from the University of Tel-Aviv on the catalogs of surrealists in Paris, she notably owns several collections at the Israel Museum. She will give a lecture on the symbolic in art on January 22 at the Netanya Academic College.

Caroline Haïat is a journalist for the French site of i24NEWS

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