Star of David/Ghetto/Star of David

Rome, Tel-Aviv, New York, Lausanne, Boston 1962-1977

The employment of Jewish symbols to create a national art for Israel was one of the foundation stones of national revival in the Land of Israel. However, with the formation of the New Horizon group in 1948, these trends were sidelined in the local art scene. But another group of artists belonging to the local current of socialist realism painting exchanged their international-socialist convictions for the national narrative of the Jewish people – from Holocaust to Rebirth. Many of the artists, including Bak, were Holocaust survivors and their choice to embrace symbols embedded with a biographical component is a matter of course.

In a series of paintings from 1962, in Rome, the Star of David appears in its Holocaust morph – the yellow Jewish Badge. The collage medium used in this series is practically a “ready-made”. The yellow Jewish Badge is not left intact, rather it becomes an indelible part of the art of one who no longer wears it, but on whose soul it remains etched.

A series of paintings from 1976-77 portrays the ghetto as an entity in the form of the Star of David. The isolated ghetto was cast out of human space and just like its residents was marked with a badge of shame, shaped like a Star of David.

This section concludes with paintings depicting a quasi-cemetery, the stone covers having been rolled away from the graves. Exposed is the deserted ghetto, neither it nor its residents receiving either headstone or grave. The buried, ruined city bears silent witness to what there transpired. With the passage of time, the city has been buried in earth, the cover-stone has been rolled back into place, the tomb in the form of a Star of David.