2009-08-14 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

The Art Of Father And Son Opens Sunday
Commmentary by Susan Hartenstein

Caption: One of the powerful political cartoons of William Pogrebitskiy on view at sTudio 7, Fort Tilden. The exhibit includes the wood sculptures of his son Robin. Caption: One of the powerful political cartoons of William Pogrebitskiy on view at sTudio 7, Fort Tilden. The exhibit includes the wood sculptures of his son Robin. An exhibit honoring "The Art of Robin and William Pogebitskiy" opens with a reception this Sunday, August 16 from 1-3 p.m. in sTudio 7 Gallery.

Check the gray box for details.

In the 1920s and '30s William Pogrebitskiy saw the oppression and bigotry of the rising fascist forces in Spain, Italy and Germany; and he saw those who aided them, either for ideological reasons or for financial gain. Pogrebitskiy fought with the tools he had at hand. He drew impassioned political cartoons decrying the brutality and cruelty of those movements which eventually came to power in Europe and of those who helped bring them to power. Of course, because bigotry and tyranny are not limited to one continent, his pencils, pens, charcoal, brushes and ink were also pointed at the savagery of lynch mobs in the US.

Pogrebitskiy often personifies the cruelty of the fascists by representing them as almost inhuman brutes. In one cartoon an enraged Nazi prison guard is verbally browbeating a heroically postured prisoner, resisting, standing with chest out. The face of the brute is almost like that of an animal. The bloodshed and suffering wrought by the fascist ideologies is sometimes symbolized by a skeleton, as in the cartoon that depicts a hooded skeleton holding an ax, which bears a swastika, and the fasces (symbol of the fascists in Italy under Mussolini). The ax drips blood across the countries of Europe. In another, a skeleton represents a war profiteer, cigar in hand, sitting atop a pile of lifeless human bodies.

Yet these are not simply generic caricatures. Each is a bit different from the others. Though symbols of larger issues, those who populate the drawings are human beings, individuals, each with a different face. The plight of those victimized by and those fighting against the 'evil forces' are sensitively and sympathetically depicted. A young woman clutching a baby runs, fleeing a rain of bombs from the sky. Drawn during the Spanish Civil War, this was perhaps meant to show the bombing of the Basque city of Guernica by German and Italian planes sent to help Franco defeat the Republican forces. The town became a symbol of fascist brutality. A frail, wan couple rendered in thin drawn lines, is being ordered by an Italian fascist goon to wait for food until after there are enough weapons produced.

Within the sweep of history is contained the journeys of the Pogrebitskiy family, precipitated by the political upheavals in Europe. In the 1930s Bill Pogrebitskiy was living in the Soviet Union and the editorial cartoons in the exhibit appeared in Moscow newspapers.

William Pogrebitskiy passed his artistic talent on to his son. Robin Pogrebitskiy has taken what began as a hobby, woodcarving, and brought it to the level of high art. When Robin looks at a piece of wood (usually driftwood he has found on the beach) he sees within it the shapes of an animal or a person or an object. He then carves into that wood bringing forth from its depths the wood's true reality; true identity. Taking advantage of the natural qualities and forms in the wood, Robin never compromises that entity - he enhances it.

For a relief portrait of Einstein created on a portion of a tree trunk, Robin has allowed a gnarled, bumpy gall to describe the wild hair of the genius. The sculpted bust of a woman, also carved into a trunk, is topped with the flowing poetry of surrounding branches expressing her luxuriant hair.

The wood never loses its character to become less than it is - only more. The artist's love of the medium is evident. The luscious grain of the wood is the grain of the face or vase or candlestick. A 'beehive' vase is designated as such because of the warm honey-like color of the wood. All sculptures are carved from one piece of wood. Many are varnished to bring out their luster. Some of the pieces in the show are abstract. The stylized figure of a man has been wired as a lamp. Dragons, fantastic intertwined birds, jewelry boxes, menorahs, chairs, a Greek god and goddess - all live in the world of Robin Pogrebitskiy. All are unique.

As is this exhibit which, for the first and, perhaps, only time unites the art of this father and son. A man celebrating his 80th birthday reaches back to a father killed in a war to defend humanity, at age 40. In "The Art of Robin and William Pogebitskiy" time and death cease to separate.


Phone: 718-474-0861; Fax: 718-474- 4373; e-mail: rockart116@aol.com; website: www.rockawayartistsallian ce.org

Fort Tilden Highlights OPENING RECEPTION FOR "THE ART OF ROBIN AND WILLIAM POGREBITSKIY: Wood sculpture and political drawings. Opening reception: Sun., Aug. 16, sTudio 7 Gallery, RoCA @ Fort Tilden,1-3 p.m. Gallery hrs.: Sat.s 12 noon-4 p.m., Sun.s 1-4p.m. and by appointment. Free admission. On view through Sun., Aug. 30.

LIVE MUSIC ON BEACH & TRIBUTE PARK: RAA sponsors 2 free events on Sat., Aug 15 -- 11 a.m. at Beach 98 Street and boardwalk; 6 p.m next to Tribute Park, Beach 116 Street and Beach Channel Drive. Featuring Hard Bargain, Squid, Nina & the Rebel Band, Reda Shay. Donations are welcome.

THURS. NIGHT OPEN MIC: Performing artists of all disciplines invited. Sign-up at 7:45 p.m. for 8 p.m. start time.

NEXT RAA WRITERS GROUP MEETING: Mon., Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. in sTudio 7.

NEW ARTSPLASH DEADLINE: Mon., Aug. 17. Visit: www.rockawayartistsalliance or call 718-474-0861 for prospectus and entry form. Guest juror: Charlotta Kotik, retired director of Dep't of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum. Presently Curator Emeritus.

MAKBET OF DZIECI THEATRE COMPANY: Sat., Aug. 15, 8 p.m. sTudio 7, RoCA (arrive at 7:30 p.m.for 'nibbles & bits'). Encore presentation of innovative interpretation of Shakespeare classic. Suggested donation: $10.

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