A guided visit to the first Israeli retrospective of Anatoly Kaplan, one of the greatest Soviet-Jewish artists of the 20th century.
Anatoly (Tanhum) Kaplan was born in 1902 in the town of Rahachow (Rogachov) in the Russian Empire (now in Belarus), and died in 1980 in Leningrad (Saint Petersburg). He was the only artist in the Soviet Union to put Jewish culture at the forefront of his work and to be recognized by the Soviet regime despite that. In Kaplan’s works, daily scenes from the shtetl (Jewish small town) and the stories of the great Yiddish writers, such as Sholem Aleichem and Mendele Moykher-Sforim, came to life.
Under the radar of the censors, Kaplan managed to conceal in his works an encrypted social critique of life behind the Iron Curtain, and of the social and political challenges faced by contemporary Jews. Kaplan worked consistently even as political and historical upheavals occurred around him; he did not stop creating even when the city of Leningrad was under siege, and his beloved hometown was captured and destroyed. He remained engrossed in a continuous search for new ways to describe and create the story of his childhood, which he refused to let fade away.
Although Kaplan was not allowed to leave the Soviet Union, his works travelled around the world, making him an internationally renowned artist. But in Israel, Kaplan remains an almost unfamiliar name, known only to connoisseurs. The exhibition at Beit Avi Chai reveals to the public a significant portion of Kaplan’s extensive oeuvre – over a hundred works, including various series of prints, ceramics, oil paintings, engravings, and rare books.
Tours are approx. 75 minutes long | Free, with advance registration on the Beit Avi Chai website