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The program features a talk by Lembersky’s granddaughter, Yelena Lembersky, co-author of the recent and highly acclaimed memoir, Like a Drop of Ink in a Downpour: Memories of Soviet Russia. Yelena will be introduced by Georgetown University professor, Ori Z Soltes, who has known her for many years and has written extensively on the work of Felix Lembersky.

“We are merely honest people and see what is good and bad, and we cannot be confused.” – Felix Lembersky, Leningrad, the Soviet Union, 1960

Image above: Felix Lembersky, At the Train Station, ca 1960-64. © Felix Lembersky estate

Felix Lembersky (1913-1970) was a Soviet Jewish painter, teacher, theater sets designer, and an organizer of artistic groups in Leningrad and the Urals. Born in Poland, he grew up in Ukraine, and had his start in the arts in Kyiv during the Avant-Garde of the 1920s. In 1935, he moved to Leningrad to study realist painting at the Academy of Art. He achieved national recognition for his portraits and paintings on historic subjects but rejected Socialist Realism, mandated by the Soviets, and became a vocal critic of  censorship and repressive policies against the arts. He is best known for his Execution: Babyn Yar canvases (ca. 1944-52), the earliest artistic representation of the massacre, and his later non-realist work. In the 1980s, his family brought his oeuvre to the United States.

Felix Lembersky, Red Workshop, 1959.

Felix Lembersky, Reclining, 1964.

Yelena Lembersky is an author, an architect, and a project director at the Uniterra Foundation, promoting art and mutual understanding around the world. She has curated exhibitions and edited several catalogues of her grandfather’s art. Her writing has appeared in World Literature TodayCardinal Points, and The Forward, and she was recently interviewed on National Public Radio, Radio Boston, and BBC.

Ori Z Soltes, PhD, teaches at Georgetown University across a range of disciplines, from art history and theology to philosophy and political history. He is the former Director of the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum, and has curated more than 90 exhibitions across the country and overseas. He has authored or edited 25 books and several hundred articles and essays. Recent volumes include Our Sacred Signs: How Jewish, Christian and Muslim Art Draw from the Same Source; The Ashen Rainbow: Essays on the Arts and the Holocaust; and Tradition and Transformation: Three Millennia of Jewish Art & Architecture; and Growing Up Jewish in India: Synagogues, Ceremonies, and Customs from the Bene Israel to the art of Siona Benjamin.

This event is part of our monthly series Flight or Fight. stories of artists under repression.
Future events and the recordings of past events can be found HERE.

The Fritz Ascher Society is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization. Your donation is fully tax deductible.

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