At my first sight of a painting by Samuel Bak, I had the keen sense that he was telling me stories with his brush. Now that at long last he has written this book, I find it no wonder that he has painted with his pen.... Among the tens and hundreds of books I have read about the pre-Shoah and post-Shoah period... Bak’s book is unique. Despite being suffused with a sense of loss, horror, degradation, and death, it is ultimately a sanguine, funny book, full of the love of life, rocking with an almost cathartic joy. At times I found myself bursting out laughing... a marvelous ode, a colorful hymn to the forces of life, love, creation, and the joys of the senses. From the Foreword by Amos Oz
In Painted in Words internationally renowned artist Samuel Bak sets aside his brushes to narrate the stories of his lifeas a child in Nazi-occupied Vilna, as a youth in European refugee camps, and as a maturing artist in Israel, France, Italy, Switzerland, and the United States. With gentle humor, the child prodigy of the faraway past and the accomplished artist of today engage in a spirited dialogue from which emerges a self-portrait of "The Artist as a Youngand middle-aged and agingSurvivor." The brilliance, vision, and virtuosity that Bak brings to his painting are equally in evidence in his writing. This deeply touching work is an important contribution to Holocaust literature and art history.
|Publisher:||Indiana University Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.63(d)|
About the Author
Samuel Bak, born in Vilna in 1933, had the first exhibition of his drawings at the age of nine in the Vilna ghetto. Escaping after its destruction, he emigrated to Israel, where he studied at the Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem. In an artistic career of over forty years he has had numerous exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout Israel, Europe, and the United States. Since 1993 he has lived in the Boston area with his wife, Josée.
Bak's other publications include Landscapes of Jewish Experience; Chess as Metaphor in the Art of Samuel Bak; The Game Continues: Chess in the Art of Samuel Bak; and The Past Continues.
Table of Contents
Preliminary Table of Contents:
The following is a list of chapter titles. The book itself doesn't have a Table of Contents.
Foreword: Painted in Words, Narrated in Colors and Light, by Amos Oz
Chapter One The Pinkas
Chapter Two How All This Writing Began
Chapter Three Aunt Yetta's Magic
Chapter Four On Father's Side: The Baks
Chapter Five Sailing on Rachel's Wet Floor
Chapter Six Another Realm: Her Highness Xenia
Chapter Seven Three Stories in Search of My Father
Chapter Eight On Mother's Side: The Yochels and the Nadels
Chapter Nine Many Loves and a Deep Friendship
Chapter Ten Events Follow Events
Chapter Eleven Mother's Tutoring
Chapter Twelve What, Now, and When: On My Art and Myself
Chapter Thirteen Closure
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is different from most Holocaust memoirs, not only because its author is famous in his own right, but because it's not really about the Holocaust. Surprisingly few of the pages -- I'd estimate perhaps one-quarter to one-third of the book -- are about Bak's experiences hiding from the Nazis. I suppose people expecting to hear all about the vicious Germans and Lithuanians and the ghetto and the kind nuns who sheltered him would be disappointed, but I thought this was a refreshing change. The book is also not written in chronological order, but rather skips around quite a bit the way people's thoughts tend to do. But I didn't find it hard to follow.Bak's book instead is a labor of love for his family, for his ancestors and for a way of life the war destroyed forever. I was mesmerized by his tales about his great-grandfather that bore (approximately) twenty-five children starting when he was thirteen. About his grandmother who disagreed with his mother about how long Bak's shorts could be and kept sewing on fabric extensions to the legs which his mother ripped off. About his family's housekeeper and her tantrums and prejudices. This is a true painting in words, and it's painted with love and longing, without the bitterness and hate you might expect from someone who lost so much. Highly recommended.