Friday evening reception at Giampietro Gallery for show of Castiglione Holocaust drawings
Giampietro Gallery—Works of Art
315 Peck St., New Haven, (203) 777-7760
Jerusalem Burning: The Holocaust Drawings of Edward Castiglione
July 13—Aug. 3, 2012.
Opening Reception: Fri., July 13, 5—8 p.m.
Press Release by Stephen Vincent Kobasa from Giampietro Gallery
Edward Castiglione (1948-2010):
"Three Studies for Geruseleme" is a way of explaining the incomprehensible and unbearable. It is not to be interpreted or approached with moral significance. In point of fact it should be as outside of reason, as a suspension of judgment, for to attach significance would be to place value and dimension to a horror which is beyond measure.
Many years afterward a Jesuit priest recalled a night in Hungary, late in the Second World War:
It was summertime, it was one of those very quiet nights… I woke up to a sound… I didn't know what it was at first… and then I realized this is the sound of people crying…children, women, men… that kind of chorus, wailing… The next morning… it was a gardener who told me that those were the Jewish people crying because at our station the Hungarian gendarmerie handed them over to SS troops to be deported… I didn't know about the death camps at that time, and I didn't know about the ovens, the burning… But I personally, at that moment, I felt a persuasion coming upon me that these people will all be killed… today, maybe, I would be ready to then run in front of the train and lay down…[but] at that time… it was just… running away, simply running away…it was beyond my experience… I was utterly unprepared.Born three years after the war, when the memory of the death camps was already being suppressed, Edward Castiglione struggled to imagine as an artist that place beyond experience that the priest ran from. These Geruseleme drawings were the largest single sustained series of works which he undertook in his lifetime. In them, he was a bystander after the fact, with his own conscience put to the test by the images he fashioned. The Isaac who carries the wood for these burnt offerings is not spared. A promise of fire is in every picture, the bodies turned to fuel and then ash and then, as the poet Nelly Sachs envisioned them, "refugees of smoke." Given their subject, there is no way to avoid saying that these pictures are one desperate failure after another; but it is in that procession of failures that the horror becomes finally clear.