Few people are aware that in small apartment In Gilo lives and works one of the most abundant, talented, and sensitive Israeli artists. This is Boris Lekar…
…Since Israeli weather prevents artists from painting in watercolors outside for a long time, Lekar has no other choice as to draw brief sketches and after that to paint large pictures at home, from memory. His pictures wash away the time and melt away in recollections; they blend local landscapes and other landscapes, from the past, born by his mind’s eye and in the process of his work… These pictures astonish, since they display neither this world, nor that world. They reveal the artist’s spirituality, his ability to stare comprehend, and recollect. In these pictures there is a collision between a romantic, who believes in the depicted reality and light, and a personality, who perceives, that it is not a reality of light, but a spiritual picture, transforming into a sensuous one.
The mystery of Lekar’s art is also in his ability to be independent in the world, which is beyond the verbal description. The words here, if to quote Georgie Saramato, are “nothing but stones, which are piled up in the river, so that we could cross it.”
For Boris Lekar the whole world, while preserving its integrity, is clearly divided into material objects and spirituality, which is contained in them and emanated by them. His attitude to materiality is skeptical, while he is in love with spirituality. His pictures reflect matter’s destructive conversion into a spiritual power. We witness some strange artistic spiritualism: spiritual essence, which, in the artist’s opinion, is contained in all things, is breaking through the material shell.
With light, watercolor strokes, with the persistence of a Barbizon School student, he constantly engraved Kiev landscapes seen outside his house, sunsets and sunrises, seasons, instant changes of light. And water in which he dipped his brushes, mixing with the water of the painted Dnepr or rain, washed out the momentary objectiveness, revealing some eternal meanings in it. In the series of the Kiev watercolors he has reduced color to an unbelievable degree, so that ten steps away it seemed like the papers are blank, five steps away that there is something, and only coming very close you could discern the objects of the landscape And the remarkable thing is: when looking closely you were impressed by their colorfulness because though the brightness of colors was reduced, their correlation was preserved. Thus, one and the same music tune can be played in different octaves and moving further and further to the left or to the right, go beyond the limits of the keyboard and even beyond the limits of the human hearing. But there, beyond these limits, in the zone of non-hearing, the correlation of notes (at least theoretically) will remain the same. Taking the image onto the verge (almost beyond the verge) of human sight, beyond the limits of its keyboard, Boris Lekar challenges materiality for the sake of its own spirituality.
In fact, Boris Lekar resolves the problem, which is unsolvable for an artist, at least for an artist remaining within the limits of the mimetic art – to picture the world of pure spirituality. Because the artist of this choice perceives the world only as a visible one, i.e. that of objects, things, matter. However, Boris Lekar insists that he, like Maeterlinck (remember the “Blue Bird”?) takes out to the scene of his canvas not bread, but rather the “soul of bread”, not sugar but rather “soul of sugar”, not water but rather the ”soul of water”. His “Israeli Views” are, of course, the soul of Israel. Everyone who has ever been to that country will testify to the correspondence of Boris Lekar’s views to nature – both in specific details and, first and foremost, in the penetrating blue and yellow colors, which Andrey Bely (for another occasion) has described as “gold in sky-blue”. Unsolvable problems remain unsolvable, but in solving them, the master makes artistic discoveries.
The same was true in the Kiev works of Boris Lekar, for instance, in his series of portraits. The spiritual aureole of the persons portrayed is expressive on its own – of Mozart or Janus Korczak – but in their portraits you see an aureole rather than a figure, along with apparent similarity and characteristic features.
As in a picture made not in light-waves but rather in heat-waves, the hottest surfaces dominate; in Boris Lekar’s portraits, faces are reflected in the heat-waves of shining spirituality as appealing to a so-called national mentality. The Jewish religious tradition, for several thousand years, has barred pictures of a certain kind: thou shall not make thee any graven image. Having broken into the emancipated fine arts, Jewish artists (especially those of the turn of century) began to picture the world using various kinds of destructions, as if trying to avoid the bar but at the same time sensing its pressure. But here is the problem: has this well־ known Jewish mentality been shaped as a result of this ancient ban, or was the ban itself born of this Jewish mentality? The answer is probably known to God alone, but in reconstructing the visible world Boris Lekar is simultaneously “making” and “not making” a graven image.
The strange dualism of Boris Lekar’s material and spiritual substances may be also explained through his social circumstances, the specific circumstances of Soviet life, which surrounded the artist before his departure.
The material image of this world was too real, its pressure on the artist was too rough, and the artist’s spirit was chased too deep into the underground. In protecting it, he made his spiritual essence dominant in his artistic world, and attributed to it the extrinsic status of visibility. This may have been the “internal״ dissidence of Boris Lekar. Artists of his generation manifested their social opposition and personal stance in different ways. He did it this way.
When Kievites of the past beheld in their our city another City and called their Kiev – “Jerusalem”, they also revealed the spiritual in the material.
Boris Lekar is an extraordinary person in the creative world. A recent architect in Kiev, even here in Israel he found ways to exercise his abilities and knowledge in searching for and academic study of ancient Jewish architectonics, and with this purpose in mind he visited Germany, Turkey, India and other countries. His services have been well rewarded. But Lekar’s significance as an artist is no less important. His personal exhibitions took place in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, other cities of the country, and lately some of his works supplemented the modem art collection of the Museum of Israel (which is extremely unusual if not an exception among newly repatriated artists). Lekar is not artist of an experiential school of thought (“I sing of what I see”), but rather of a philosophical one, fastening his eyes on the depths of the entity, which are hidden from the eyes of a superficial and indifferent spectator; open not so much and not only to the sensual tangible images of this world, but rather to the emanations of the superior forces, Invisible to the eyes. His pictures cause one to think not of everyday life, but rather of being, of the concentrated meditation far from the worldly bustling; yet, at the same time, this is not abstract mysticism, but rather visual images, embodied in color and form of the fine arts. These works have to be seen, while any copy gives only far away and rough impressions. You will never pass quickly by them as a vacuous spectator, you have to stand before them, peer deliberately, and then your work of mind and feelings will be rewarded.
In his pictures from the “Israeli Antiquities” cycle, architectural monuments appear as if from the depth of the infinite and very rich space, perceived through a graphic metaphor of the historical space. The artist’s eyes penetrate through the thick veil of ancient times, drawing out of almost cosmic distance objective evidence of the life of our ancestors of the biblical epochs. Lekar, if I may say so, actualizes archeology, links museum antiquities with the modem mind, making us sense consanguinity with this land, with the history and culture of its people. The same task has been set before the watercolor series, and it is carried in very peculiar, almost monochrome, landscapes of Israel, painted in one tonality. Fata morgana, mirages and visions appear in the sand vagueness, in whose hardly discernible profiles a careful viewer will recognize the walls and towers of ancient Jerusalem, the waters of the Kinnereth and the Dead Sea, the hills of Zefat, the Negev desert…
One unique characteristic of Lekar’s works of art is light. Not the light which illuminates an object or a picture from the outside, but the light emanating from the picture itself, coming from its unapproachable depths. Is it mysterious light of gone-out stars, spiritual light of the people, once buried in the sand, dispersed and then risen back to life? There can be many hypotheses and interpretations; I would guess that even the artist has no exhaustive answer to all the questions. Arts are arts rather than exact sciences because they appear in an inseparable composition of knowledge, feelings, and intuition, conscious and subconscious; if we try and separate them in an analysis, we run a risk of destroying that which turns a canvas or a sheet of paper with color on it into a masterpiece of fine art.
The artist’s palette is richer lapidary, color characteristics are hidden in hardly discernible tinctures. These are not “sights”, but a “landscape of soul”, not pictures of the land, but mirages shaping on the verge between the real and the unreal realms. Lekar’s landscapes are a kingdom of silence and loneliness: a man stays one on one with the original greatness of nature and neither rustling leaves, nor a flying bird, nor a running animal breaks the eternal original silence. These pictures are to be seen and listened to – not to the sound, but to the silence penetrated by an untouchable thought and feeling of the artist, his reverence before the perfection of the being. Sometimes it seems like this is the nature of the first days of creation, and only in a few compositions do silhouettes of a house on a rock or a yacht in a bay bring us back to today.
Pictures and words cannot be equivalent to each other, even less so when the essence of the pictures is not in the materiality of its object, but rather in the intangibility of its mood. Descriptions leave room for a miracle of transfiguration of form and color into pure spirituality. Boris Lekar’s works are of this kind.