«Jewish Observer»
May 2002
5762 Sivan

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Exhibitions may represent art of women and children, that of mental patients or works of one - nationality painters. A row may be continued with, for example, exhibitions of men's art. As a matter of fact, most important is Painter's skill regardless of his health condition, gender, age, nationality-audience is far from this, though, curiosity is not the last thing. A work of art abandons its author when it becomes an exhibit, but in the process of creation it is his flesh and blood. Everything matters at this stage - author's gender, age, emotional status, nationality and, of course, talent. Though, talent is a particular, very complicated phenomenon. What should a woman-painter do if, on the one hand, talent disturbs her soul and, on the other hand, it is "beyond her" to abandon children, family, home, work?

Then a woman, be her a painter, should get aware that her talent and herself are not one and the same thing, that she should abide by common human laws, and, in addition, she has a talent she should use.

Lena Lesnichaya is a painter and poet. Kievites will be able to ascertain in this having visited her personal exhibition due to open June 6 in the "Todzio" gallery. Her works have not been frequent guests of Kiev exhibitions as she lives and works, i.e. creates, in Kharkov where she also teaches at the Jewish lyceum "Shaalavim".

Lesnichaya has repeatedly participated in exhibitions in Ukraine and abroad, but her main personal exposition was shown in the Museum of Modern Russian Art in Jersey City (USA) in 1999.

Lesnichaya came out both as a painter and poet also in the project "Feminism under any other name: women in Ukraine represent themselves on their own". Nina Vinogradova, one of the project participants, writes the following about the project in her book published in 2000, "... this is a queer creation called to overcome a hostile to women government policy, shameful lack of money, vicious practice of financing only commercial projects, system of gender stereotypes and habitual art labels...". This is far from a complete list of what creative personalities in general, and women-creators in particular have to overcome.

As for Lina Lesnichaya, one of the most significant items for her from the list above should become anti-Semitism. Since her childhood she has been an "Eternal Yiddie". Even her wise grandmother couldn't explain what Jews differ form all others in and why they are so disliked. Lena was not let to forget about her nationality since childhood, though at times she was much eager to forget there exist Jews and "non-Jews".

Present times are unlike previous ones. Jews are no more ashamed of their Jewishness; they are even a bit proud of it, though, nowadays we also do not observe particular affection to them. Her grandmother was not ashamed of and was not proud of her being a Jew; she simply spoke Yiddish in street in trolleybus, everywhere, whereas Lena was suffering.

Today she patiently explains to her neighbor-woman that her, Lena's dog, is not a "Yid's dog" but a French bulldog, but sometimes patience betrays her and then... the neighbor suffers a complete defeat.

Talent communicates not with a neighbor-tool, but with a Creator. Talent is dawned by a spiritual power that helps create one's own world, one's own free space and get settled there through words, sounds, colors. Yet, this world also doesn't allow an "Eternal Yiddie" to forget about a Jewish theme.

Lena has never received special orders on "Jewish" pictures, the theme "opened its way" by itself. Over 10 years ago a Jewish life in Kharkov was in the bud, little was known about this very Jewish life, but Lena executed a "Jewish dance". "Auto-portrait" and "Settlement in Israel" are obviously a Jewish theme.

You experience a desire to enter the world of Lesnichaya's art not only because her subjects are interesting and intriguing, i.e. not only "what" she creates is important, but "how" she does it as well. She is a subtle, sensitive to a color play painter. Balancing on the edge of a dream, mirage and reality Lena creates Her work with all expressive means affordable to her.

Work of every painter may contain some reminiscences, allusions. Painter doesn't live in emptiness, much passes through his consciousness, through his soul. Let spectators judge who of the past and present painters is near of Lesnichaya. Exhibits will be accompanied by verses including the ones about Babiy Yar tragedy. Escape from reality is obviously seen in both pictures and verses:

My triumph cannot fly,
I have no time for acting
I'm not to be dismissed,
Nor lulled to sleep conferring.
Creating good is wonderful idea
When unaware who's right and who is not.
Don't be verbose for I'll go numb, my dear,
My poor with no fortune fellow. Dot!

In June Lena Lesnichaya will take part in "Agada" program established by the Institute of Judaic Studies, which has already organized over 20 exhibitions of painters who work over the Jewish theme.

"Joint" representation in Ukraine and Jewish Confederation of Ukraine assist the Institute in organizing exhibitions.


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