Евгений Котляр. Росписи синагог Северной Буковины в контексте восточноевропейской традиции

Wall Paintings of the Synagogues of Nothern Bukovina in the Context of Eastern European Tradition

By Eugene Kotlyar

(Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Fine Arts)

Source: Judaica Ukrainica 1 (2012): 227–263

Publication date: December 1, 2012

Publication type: article

Language: Russian

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Abstract

Studies in recent years have made it possible to identify Northern Bukovina as a regional center of existence of the Eastern European tradition of synagogue murals. Painting decoration of well-known today synagogues in Novoselytsia (1918–1919) and Chernivtsi (Beit Tfila Benjamin, 1920–30s) shows the unity of this iconographic program, a naive perception of the language of images, expressiveness and depth in interpreting the images and subjects ofthe biblical motifs and scenes. Carpet-like style of painting, great variety of subject repertoire, and saturation of images make these synagogues similar to those of Romania (historical regions of Southern Bukovina, Bessarabia and Moldova). However, the breadth of the program of their decoration as a whole and its individual cycles has almost no parallel in Europe. It is quite likely that the distinctiveness of these paintings is associated with the spread of the Sadigura-Vizhnitz branch of Hasidism in Bukovina, although there is no direct evidence in support of this hypothesis as of yet. These paintings adhere to the general principles of the Eastern European synagogue decoration, reflecting in their structure the cosmological ideas and images of sacred Jewish history. These pantintings’ subject matter manifestly follow traditions of the period, but their interpretation also shows the influence of medieval approaches (techniques of depicting human body), the power of folk traditions and contemporary trends of the time. The murals contain motifs of local architecture and landscape, including images of the Khotyn fortress and Bukovinian synagogues-residences of Sadigura-Vizhnitz Tzaddikim, rabbinic interpretations of various themes, patterns of established designs and prototypes, and yet at the same time there is a vivid, original art-making, compositional and coloristic integrity of the artistic ensemble. These sites show the strength of the religious spirit of the pre-war Jews of Bukovina. The artistic tradition which in this region has retained its lively, emotional nature, emphasizes the connection with centuries-old cultural heritage of shtetl.

 

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