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The Painting Philosopher

Posted 17/2/2011


Imagine a person whose approach to his work is based on the consideration what if Pygmalion fell in love with a statue not because of her ultimate beauty but out of a despair for love, that this motivation has made Pygmalion to perceive an unfinished and far from ultimate beauty, a statue, as the most wonderful thing in the world. Michael Rogatchi, our very well-known artist, living in Turku, definitely fell victim to one of Heaven's mistakes. He should have been born in the last century, instead of 1953, in 1853 - when van Gogh would have been his contemporary. In that century, it was artists, composers, and writers who were masters of life, it was the period when a classical education was engrained. In those times, there was no need to explain who Pygmalion was. In that world, Michael Rogatchi would be at home.

One of his most impressive paintings is July 29th - In Memory of Van Gogh. Michael painted there the last moments of van Gogh's life. As a matter of fact, the painter succeeded in expressing an extreme moment of being at the border of life and death literally. In Michael's painting van Gogh is wearing rather strange shoes, not just very old and falling apart, but not a pair at all. Michael could not explain why but he said that he knew 100% that van Gogh must have had those kinds of shoes. To the artist's deep amazement, a good while after he produced that work, Michael learned that yes, prior to his death Vincent van Gogh did wear shoes from different pairs, indeed. It is just one of the many fascinating coincidences in Michael's work and life.

We are familiar with Michael's affection for the eyes and the expressions of the eyes, and he is still fascinated by them. But now there is something new, as well. One can see that the painter has been interested in hands, too. He paints them in a very fascinating and attractive way, making one symbol after another, each time with a different meaning. The artist is saying that "hands, indeed, are an extremely important part of the human body. Hands speak out on one's strength, weakness, and hope. Hands can defend and can reject. Hands invite and say good-bye..." And one can see that however different they are, hands painted by Rogatchi have experienced a lot.

And what about his famous eyes? They are mostly women's. Michael does not paint a lot of men, in general. Well, the reason is simple: "Eyes tells everything about a woman. Everything!"

Each year Michael Rogatchi makes at least one painting of a horse. Horses he loves very much, and understands them profoundly. For Michael, horses are the symbol and even the embodiment of energy. "From the horses in my paintings one can see quite clearly what kind of year it has been for me. Sometimes, horses are very dynamic, radiating joy and wildness in its best meaning, and it means that I have been quite energetic as well during that year. Another paintings portrays tired, or sad, or exhausted horses, - and I was the same that year," - said Michael.

Along with his wife Inna, the well-known writer and movie director, Michael Rogatchi has demonstrated unparalleled courage in pursuing their goals. Needless to say, their incredibly hard work has led them both to wide success and recognition. During the last five years, Michael has had as many as seventeen exhibitions, and his works have gone to art collectors worldwide. One of the most interesting works he has exhibited recently at his big one-man show in the Tampere House was 'Poor Yorick!...' In Memory of Marcello Mastrojanni. This work is truly an original reading of the famous Shakespearian character, from Hamlet. The same, as Days and Nights of Pygmalion, and other works from The Back Side of the Moon Collection, this remarkable painting approaches well-known classical characters and phenomena from a completely different point of view, and with an independent interpretation.

Michael Rogatchi has obviously learned a lot from the essential cultural figures of the past. And there is definitely a strong presence of this link in his works. One of Rogatchi's most peculiar features as a modern artist is his un-stoppable desire to see the Moon from the other side. Otherwise, how on earth would he know about van Gogh's shoes?...


Tarja Passi, Iltalehti Weekend, Finland, Iltalehti is the biggest and most popular daily in Finland.

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