Alexander Aizenshtat

Bio

Without doubt Alexander Aizenshtat is an outstanding artist, although he is not well known. In consequence of his primary occupation of teaching Torah, he is respectfully known as Rabbi Alexander. So, Aizenshtat is a rabbi, a teacher. He teaches Jews to be Jews who keep the Law. It is really a complicated task: one should remember the simple fact that, according to Jewish prophesy, Mashiach (the Messiah) will come when all the Jews turn to the Torah, forget their atheist past and finally realize that being Jewish is the fate of not only one particular man but the entire nation. Aizenshtat is an artist who contains great spiritual energy. It is bursting through, leaving its marks on his canvases, which witness that G-d's gift hasn't been lost or forgotten, but has been accepted with much gratitude and is being used to inspire people. This confirms the old rule that a talent is a responsibility. But he can't give up his life work and be just an artist. I would even dare to suggest that both vocations are closely intertwined: he is such an outstanding artist because of his daily prayers to G-d, he is a religious man because he feels in his thoughts and emerging images the unspeakable grace of the One to Whom he prays... Aizenshtat left Russia 32 years ago. He married a Jewish girl from Paris. Today he has 11 children, lives in Jerusalem and often comes to Moscow, where he works in a Jewish academy. According to Aizenshtat, he was leaving Russia with an uncertain sensation of another life somewhere 'there', without a clear understanding of his fate. Emigrants' discussions in 1974 are engraved in his memory because they sounded very unusual. Joy and sadness weaved in one yearning, the feeling of life passing by, leaving you apart from the world full of amazing things. The fragments of talks that he heard were so astonishing that he could hardly understand why the emigrants kept speaking so anxiously of slavery in Egypt and the Exodus with Moses. Aizenshtat doesn't try to brighten up his previous life. On the contrary he doesn't have mercy on the rippled surface of the past and denies the calming mood of the bygone years, searching for the truth about himself; he just wanted another life, nothing more. Even when he got that life, leaving for Israel, he didn't realize at once that well-stocked stores and self-satisfied smiles are not substitute for spiritual harmony. "What am I looking for?" I don't know if he consciously asked himself this or this question carried on pulsing in his temples involuntary, but gradually and under the influence of many people he started to realize that the only permanent values are spiritual ones. Among Aizenshtat's paintings there is one which is very autobiographical and profound: on a dark night a man at the car dump is feeling the blue of the skies that has enveloped him. Alexander watched the skies too, feeling that 'amazing things' are not found not in the shops but in the soul and in Heaven. Isn't it strange that he, an ordinary Moscow lad, the son of a famous Moscow lawyer, who used to live near Krasnye Vorota in Furmann side-street, was sitting at night amongst the wrecks of cars, watching the skies of Israel? Aizenshtat likes old things. This shouldn't be taken literally - he likes things, experienced by time and not dead but living on. Religion for him is what is alive and old, both old and alive: this feeling he obtained in his searches. He found that the world is diverse, many-sided but it satisfies only part of man's needs. The spiritual thirst can't be satiated with Pepsi-Cola. Instead of vain joy of passing everyday life he chose asceticism... A true biography of the artist is in his pictures. Overcoming the limits of the natural world by movements of his brush he conveys to people what he would like to explain but fails to. I feel, as he does, the inexplicable warmth of a coffee house where an old Jew is sitting, I catch the harmony of an incredible fuss in a musician's movements, I understand that a real dacha in the outskirts of Moscow isn't beyond the Moscow ring-road but here - on the canvas, overshadowed by dark colors...
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