Grigory Bencionovich Inger
Grigory Inger was born January 10, 1910, in Ohrimovo, Ukraine, in 1912 he moved with his parents to the town of Uman. In 1925 he enrolled in the Jewish Industrial Arts School of Kiev which was headed by the sculptor and painter M. Epstein.
In 1929 Grigory Inger moved to Moscow and began working with several publishers, and began his works on the image of Beethoven. In 1932 Grigory participated in the first youth exhibition of Moscow.
In 1933 he enrolls in the MOSH.
1945-1948 his works were on illustrations for the chosen works of Sholom-Aleihema.
1950-1980’s, his work was devoted to “The Musical Series”.
1978, Grigory Inger began living and working in Moscow at the House of Artists.
1980: Personal Exhibition.
1912, Moscow, State Tretyakov gallery, Personal Exhibition. From 1980 he continued to live and work in Moscow.
Grigory Inger died in 1995.
The works of Grigory Inger can be found in private collections in Russia and abroad, as well as in the Russian museums: The State Tretyakov gallery, Moscow, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, The M.I. Glinka Central Museum of Musical Culture, Moscow. The State Museum of Oriental Art, Moscow, Chuvash State Art Museum Cheboksary, Belgorad State Art Museum.
Among numerous losses we have almost failed to take note of the near disappearance of an entire world-theRussian Jews which has lived in the western parts of the vast Russian empire. Tough was his luck. Did anyone care about what is was like for a gifted Jewish young man with a passion for culture to live constantly feeling embarrassment and guilt before an invisible yet ever present entity?
Only in February of 1917, when all national and religious persecution stopped, did a short “golden age” come for the Russian Jews. If years of revolution and civil war can be called a “golden age,” indeed it can, because it was then that hundreds of young Jews came forth to conquer class rooms, political battle fields and the arts.
After that came the “Stalin” years. And after that came war. And after that the “Pamyat” society and other factors which forced people to emigrate. All traces of “Kasrilovka” disappeared: the traditions, the songs, the folklore and wisdom were all gone. Only in the last names of several Jewish families you can still hear the voices of those cozy little streets.
“Krasrilovka” disappeared, but not before giving the world several brilliant singers. Forever will she be remembered in the books of Sholom-Aleihama. Her elders in striped robes, her lovers filled to the point of bursting with romance and mysterious animals with human eyes Marc Shagal captured in his works. She gave birth to A. Tishler, M. Gorshman, A. Kaplan, Grigory Inger.
Like all the other mentioned masters, in his works he unites his interest to human, work, Russian cultures. The intonations of his works are close in liking to that of typical 20th century art and they cover a vast variety of themes. A big part of his works is dedicated to music: portraits of Beethoven, Paganini. The series of paintings dedicated to Don Quixote portray an original view of Cervantes’ famous book. Many works are also dedicated to Charlie Chaplan - the image of a small comical man, childishly naive and wise, is shown in Inger’s works with a sense of poetry and lush, almost musical colors. Inger’s graphic “language” absorbed the wisdom and experience of artistic findings and discoveries of Russian artists: its freedom, masterful use of black and white. His style is similar to those of Mihail Sokolov and Petr Miturich.
For over 60 years Jewish music has sounded in Inger’s art, with its vigor, kindness, gentleness it reminds on of the poems of Sholom-Aleihem.
Illustrations to his books “To the Boy Names Motlu” and other folk tales and songs are the best examples of the fruits born by the melody of the artist’s soul. In his works there are many silly and pitiful elements, but behind the grotesque and comical features hides the thousand year old history of the Jewish people in its tragedy and wisdom. Like many other Jewish artist, Grigory Inger does not illustrate his vision of this world-but it is rather a flashback of his childhood, like a vague dream, like a child’s painting.
The use of childish painting is uneasy and risky for the artist; it is very easy to fall into a trap and portray not your memories and thoughts, but rather show the clumsiness of childish hands. But Inger’s uniqueness is partially derived from his ability to show childishness in a restricted, not overwhelming but natural manner. It seems as if the old artist with all his skill, wisdom and dexterous hands really turned into a child, into that very Gershele which at one point, long, long ago, in some other life ran around with other Gersheles and Motlas in a small village disturbing the torpor of a quiet summer’s day. An epigraph to his works could sound something like this: “It is I, Motl, son of Peisi,” I came out of the cold and damp cellar which smelled like sour dough, and it felt like I was growing up, up and up, that something is pulling me higher and higher into the blue of the endless sky, where clouds and birds soar. An incredibly musical person, cruelly deprived byfate of the ability to listen to music, which he loved ever so passionately, in his works of Sholom-Aleihem themes managed to create “musi-color and pass on the cheer of song.” Not one drop of gray paint is present in his works-golden sun, houses outlined with blue, emerald grass, red bulls. All of these colors do not seem unnatural, on the contrary; they intensify and sharpen the reality. Even with all their childishness the works dedicated to residents of God forsaken villages are very attractive and recognizable. In each detail, be it a humongous closet being carried by tiny people, a grandfather clock, men’s jackets, women’s shawls-in all these things you can see the imprints of the artist’s childhood, and your smile is unwillingly joined by sadness at the sight of the entire family huddling together around a bare table with but a few fish and small onions.
The paintings of Jewish songs are sharp ink etchings, shaped formed by one or tow light strokes, yet they are very lifelike. Even with all their realism the poetic feeling lightly illustrated by the artist’s careful strokes which can be barely seen on the white of the paper. Life is colored by the artist’s deeply personal emotions. Life is memories....
One of the last works of the eight year old artist is an image of his mother and him, little Gershele, looking at the world with naive and trusting eyes. And his mother, worried with a fearful, pleading gaze is clutching him to her as if trying to ward off the harsh, merciless world away from her son. In this lively and naive Madonna with elements of folk simplicity you can see deep humaneness which saturates all the works of Grigori Bencionovich Inger, little Gershele from Ohrimovka.
Charcoal pencil on paper
Size: 14.5" x 20.5"
Signature in Cyrillic lower right
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