Yishai Jusidman’s Holocaust-inspired paintings currently on view at the Americas Society (“Prussian Blue: Memory After Representation”) are reminiscent of those by the Belgian painter Luc Tuymans.
But Jusidman takes his further; he paints them primarily in Prussian blue, a cool hue that contains cyanide, much as did Zyklon B, the gas used to exterminate Jews in Nazi camps. “While researching the gas chambers when I was trying to come up with a way of approaching the subject through painting … I realized that Prussian blue was a vehicle that I could put to use in order to generate a direct relationship between the depiction and what it depicts,” explained Jusidman in an e-mail interview.
The artist first collected images and texts in a spiral-bound book before embarking on his painting. For Jusidman, a Los Angeles-based Mexican artist, the process of creating this pictorial meditation was “complex at times. You are dealing with images that provoke difficult emotions because of their associations, not because of what they literally depict.”
The exhibit was curated by Gabriela Rangel and contains 12 of Jusidman’s paintings. There are scenes from camps such as Auschwitz, Dachau and Majdanek; the show opens with a large painting of the Haus der Kunst, the Nazi museum.
Noted Rangel, “Jusidman achieved a very difficult task, which is to bring painterly conventions into an abstract reality that is self-referential as well as historical.” At the front of the show, viewers can peruse a collection of materials selected by Jusidman, including a computer loaded with Holocaust films, a shelf of books and Jusidman’s collected source materials.
When asked how his interest in the Holocaust began, Jusidman simply replied: “I was born a Jew.”