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By Rafael Francisco Salas, Special to the Journal Sentinel

Felix Lembersky's Jewish heritage and cultural background as a citizen of the Soviet Union during one of the most turbulent times of the modern age express themselves deeply in his artwork — indeed they are buttressed by this identity. The Jewish Museum is hosting a provocative, if at times inconsistent, survey of this artist's profoundly experienced life in paint. ...

Review in Jewish Quarterly by Julia Alcamo

One of the first warm spring evenings of the year and the exhibition opening of the night is Beings and Being. As I enter the Pushkin House on Bloomsbury Square – a leading cultural centre for Russian art in London – the bustle of the streets disappears softly into the background. The corridors are dimly lit; the rooms are vibrating with voices speaking rapid Russian; and along the walls hang paintings that are windows into a forgotten past.  .... to read more follow the link


“Феликс Лемберский – одно из незаслуженно забытых имен российского искусства ХХ века, которое необходимо вернуть в историю. Одни из талантливейших и многообещающих учеников Академии Художеств в Сант-Петебрбурге в 1935 – 1944 годах, с перерывом на участие в Великой Отечественной – Лемберский посещал студии опальных Филонова и Осмеркина – в результате чего получил уникальные опыт и знания, которые не позволили ему вписаться в систему тоталитарного соцреализма. Друг Дмитрия Шостаковича и Василия Гроссмана, он был представителем той уникальной части российской интеллигенции, которая сохраняла наивысшие нравственные стандарты отношения к профессии”. Елена Зайцева, куратор


It will be decades before the full story of postwar Russian art emerges. Felix Lembersky, born 1913 in Lublin, grew up in the Ukraine, where his parents were murdered by Nazi occupiers in the early 1940s; he himself endured the siege of Leningrad. His raw yet lyrical paintings, informed by modernist compositional instability, non-naturalistic colour and often featuring skeletal figures, mostly treat the aftermath of these events from the day-to-day viewpoint of survivors - "Building After Gunfire", "On a Walk, The Time of War" and the angular, bony woman, exhausted but physically vivid, in "Lezhaschaya, The Siege of Leningrad". Independent and autobiographically driven, Lembersky trod an uneasy path in Soviet Russia. This is his inaugural European show. 020 7269 9770, runs to May 17

Credit: By Jackie Wullschlager

Publication title: Financial Times
First page: 15
Publication year: 2013
Publication date: May 4, 2013
Year: 2013
Publisher: The Financial Times Limited
Place of publication: London (UK)
Country of publication: United Kingdom
Publication subject: Business And Economics--Banking And Finance, Political Science
ISSN: 03071766
Source type: Newspapers
Language of publication: English
Document type: News
ProQuest document ID: 1348307852
Document URL:
Copyright: (Copyright Financial Times Ltd. 2013. All rights reserved.)

April 24 - May 17, 2013
Pushkin House
5a Bloomsbury Square
London, WC1A 2TA
United Kingdom

Opening Reception Wednesday 24th April 2013, 6.00 – 9.00 pm; at 7.30: Introduction by Yelena Lembersky and reading by Robert Chandler
Lecture Tuesday 30th April 2013, 7.30 pm: Pushkin Club programme: Robert Chandler on Vasily Grossman's AN ARMENIAN SKETCHBOOK (NYRB Classics & the MacLehose Press)

Lecture Tuesday 14th May, 2013, 7.30 – 9.00 pm: Joseph Troncale, Professor of Russian Literature and Visual Studies, University of Richmond, “Art That Stops the Mind and Moves the Heart”

Pushkin House is pleased to present the art of Felix Lembersky (b. Lublin, Poland, 1913; d. Leningrad, 1970), the first showing in Great Britain. Rooted in Soviet Avant-Garde and academically trained in Leningrad, Lembersky melded realist and modernist forms, realigning them to create emotionally charged and thought-provoking imagery, expressed through a masterful technique and exquisitely complex color. His work offers a poignant view of life and the role of an artist as the voice of the people. A contemporary and friend of Dmitri Shostakovich, Natan Rakhlin, and Vasily Grossman, Lembersky was part of the subversive high culture that created a viable alternative to state-mandated art.

Lembersky was a painter, set designer, teacher, creator of artistic groups and a vocal proponent of freedom in art in the Soviet Union. His visual context is grounded in Poland, where he was born; in Ukraine, where he was raised; in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), where he lived; and in other cities in Russia and the Urals. He became a refugee at the onset of World War I, grew up in the crucible of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Civil War, and lived through World War II, including the Siege of Leningrad and the murder of his parents in occupation. He studied in Kiev from 1928 to 1934 and in Leningrad, at the Academy of Art from 1935 to 1941, graduating in the besieged city in December, 1941.

Lembersky's work has appeared in major exhibitions in Leningrad, Moscow, Sverdlovsk (Ekaterinburg) and Nizhny Tagil. Recent solo exhibitions were held in the United States: Massachusetts, Virginia, Wisconsin, and in Russia. Most recent catalogues include Torn from Darkness. Works by Felix Lembersky (Richmond: University of Richmond, 2011), Felix Lembersky. Paintings and Drawings (Moscow: Galart, 2009, in English and Russian) and Feliks Lemberskiy. Proekt “Tvortsi Uzniki Sovetsi” (Nizhny Tagil: Nizhny Tagil Art Museum, 2009). His work is in the holdings of art museums, including the Russian Museum (St. Petersburg) and Dodge Collection of Soviet Nonconformism at Zimmerli Art Museum (Rutgers University).

Highlights of this exhibition include one painting from Lembersky's series of works about Babi Yar, the ravine outside Kiev where the Nazis massacred up to 80 000 people , (oil on canvas, ca. 1944-1952), “DOM POSLE BOMBEZHKI,” (“Building after Bombing," 1959, oil on board) and “LEZHASCHAYA. The Siege of Leningrad,” 1964, oil on canvas). Despite the painful historical events he addresses, Lembersky asserts life though beauty, empathy, and shared humanity. His most moving images are of people coming out of the shadows of catastrophe, who, nonetheless, find inner resources to seek meaning. His landscapes transform nature and man-made structures into living participants in his work reflecting on a continuum of life and spiritual awakening.

This exhibition is the result of international collaboration between Pushkin House and Pushkin Club (London) and the Uniterra Foundation (Cambridge, Massachusetts). It is curated by Robert Chandler, Elena Zaytseva and Yelena Lembersky, with consulting Joseph Troncale, Professor of Russian Literature and Visual Studies and Masha Karp, independent journalist based in London. The exhibition is sponsored by Pushkin House, Pushkin Club, the Uniterra Foundation, anonymous donor, Mia Dubosarsky and Roy Katz, Anna Lublinsky, Vitaliy Slobotskoy, Andrea Strimling and Tsering Ngodup Lama Yodsampa, Mikhail and Yelizaveta Vaynshteyn, Andrew Richard, Mariya Yevsyukova and Alena Zavadskaya.

...Elena Zaytseva emphatically agrees about the importance of Lembersky to the Russian art history narrative: “Especially now it is very important to understand … that the art world in the Soviet time in Russia couldn’t be easily divided into official and un-official art because here we see an example of a very avant-garde artist, very non-conformist artist who at the same time was a part of the Union of Artists and was hugely respected by official artists as well as un-official in St Petersburg…I believe it is a really important artist for Russian art history and it is important to show his works now because basically the art history of Russia of the twentieth century hasn’t been written, [although] [t]here are a few versions, a few models of describing the art world of the Soviet period. It is important that this artist appeared and became known at the very moment when we are trying to understand what was going on in the art world in Russia.” ...


When Galya asked her father, artist Felix Lembersky, to help her understand poetry, he recited Vladimir Mayakovsky’s “Comrade Nette—Steamship and Man.” He spoke about the metaphor as of the vital instrument of artistic expression, and of anthropomorphism as of a means to reveal the human condition through things transformed into symbols. He argued that art cannot be explicit or didactic, as mandated by Socialist Realism, but rather should evoke emotional responses and create awareness. For Lembersky, the poem conveyed the spirit of the avant-garde and the direction he was taking in his own art.

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Felix Lembersky show at Jewish Museum; Ludmila Pawlowska at All Saints

May 12, 2013


Two Soviet-trained artists explore cultural and religious themes in separate exhibits now on display at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee and the Episcopal Church's All Saints Cathedral.

Born decades apart, Felix Lembersky and Ludmila Pawlowska both studied in the rigid, state-controlled art academies of the former Soviet Union, and both pushed against those constraints in their work. 

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March 17 - July 14, 2013
Jewish Museum Milwaukee
Preview March 14, 2013, 7:00 pm
Speakers: Joel Berkowitz and Yelena Lembersky
Public opening March 17, 2013


University of Richmond Museums / Lora Robins Gallery/ Richmond, VA

Symposium and reception Sept 24, 2012 6:30-9:00 pm
Speakers: Pr. Joseph Troncale, Pr. Alison Hilton, Yelena Lembersky, Lourdes Figueroa

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