THE HOLOCAUST SERIES

I was born in 1943 at the same time that thousands of European Jewish souls were being released into the skies in Nazi concentration camps, their ashes scattered by the winds encircling the world. Maybe some small element of all those souls penetrated my conscience with my first breath giving me the directive that I should be a witness after their generation is no more. The Holocaust was committed under the cloak of silence, and will be forgotten if covered by the same cloak. Victims must have memories, but only when those that were not victims remember, will the eternal flame keep warm the hearts of the generations to come. And so, I dedicate a portion of my art to the memory of a people and their suffering in the hope that my voice, as uncomfortable as it may be, joins the efforts of others to maintain this flame alive.

The "Holocaust Series" is an on going series. As long as I continue feeling about the Holocaust, I must continue producing my paintings/poems, and I hope that after I die, someone else will feel as much and will continue expressing it in an Art form.

-Saul Balagura-

 

 

HOW LONG A WAIT

Today I feel better
although too weak to walk.
I lay on the ground
covered by wind
and the occasional scent
of the Autumn that shines
over fields near by.
Not comprehending
what happened to my past.
Knowing too well
that this Winter will be
the final act of my life.
. . .Perhaps if it rains
I will open my mouth
and drink one last time . . .

 

How Long a Wait
Watercolor/Ink on Paper     18 x 24 inches     1992

 

HAVE YOU SEEN MY BROTHER ?

The gray darkness of a midday Sun
does not warm up the coldness
of a killing wind.
All is ashen in the landscape
of forgotten people
and forgotten sorrows
of memories of a distant village
now so far behind.
The barbed wires have been cut
and the young warriors
walk with caution
amidst the fragile bodies
and the giving land.
Only the flies feast
while eyes see
what can not be imagined
and the chest becomes
hollow like a giant grave.
And among the fallen
sits one man
–his eyes as shineless
as the ash that covers him–
silently demanding
with a cardboard message:
"Haben Sie meinen Bruder gesehen"
to the thousand bodies
that breath no longer,
his life suspended by the hope
that someone would have seen
his brother
that covers his hair, his skin,
his dried eyes,
the very air
he strives to breath.

 


Have You Seen My Brother
Acrylic on Canvas   38 x 48 inches     1997

 

THE BRACE

A child stands
by his mother’s side.
A fleeting image
in a foregone past.
The color of his pants,
the pattern on his shirt
blurred by all the memories
of a grown man.
Her name ?
She was called Frimale
and I can not tell
from where such a name
came.
She had a sister
or a cousin
that made my days smile
even before I knew
that there was a heart.
In the years that came
I would visit their home
with its large garden
and a swing,
trees and some birds.
A child standing
by his mother’s side
can not comprehend
her short body
and her large head,
nor the hump on her back
that twisted her chest.
Only her smile
protruded from her
plastic and iron brace.
And her soft manner
and the way she saw the world.
And the touch
of her friendly hand
when we said good bye
when four o’clock came
almost every day.

Oh yes, there was
also a smell,
her own personal smell
a mixture of her mother’s
care, her sweat
and that brace
that allowed her
to carry her head straight.
And then,
one day,
Frimale was not there
waiting by the swing
amidst the trees and the birds.
She was
the first person of my age
that I knew dead.
Buchenwald
had claimed finally
the body of a child
that had escaped
from its wire cage
to find a friend
in a child that for some time
could not explain
that smile on the face
that came from a brace
that held upwards
her twisted chest.

The Brace
Oil on Canvas   20 x 16 inches     1996


The Cap

I keep searching in vain
for your hat.
You know,
the one you were wearing
on that cold spring night
when the sky was dark
and blue and
the stars were shining
through the billowing
smoke clouds.
You know,
the hat that you wore
the one with the
large visor bend upwards
so that I could see your eyes
among all the other eyes.
The heavy wool cap
that mother,
that your mother gave you
just before she left that morning
looking for potatoes or bread,
the last time you saw her
wrapped in her brown winter coat.
The brown wool cap
that was too large for both of us.
The one that kept your head warm
through the cold winter
of the war.
The one you were wearing when
the distant bombing
and machine-gun crackling
were pressing the guards to kill still more.
I see you still behind the red drapes
of my eyelids when I close them
to the Sun or when
in the darkness of my room
I let my thoughts go free
thousands of miles and nights
away from you.
I thought I had it last
in my hand amidst
all that death and mud,
but, perhaps I was wrong.

 


The Cap
Acrylic on Canvas   48 x 38 inches     2000


TWO CHILDREN

Keeping company during
life’s final count
you are memories to me
who stood one balmy evening
just feet away from you.
Death is calling with
chants and promises of years to come
while flies hover over
childhood friendship.
I cannot help you
for you are history and
I am tomorrow.
May the breezes
from gentle memories
caress you on this trip.

 


Two Children
Watercolor on Paper   23 x 18 inches     1992

 

Go Away
[Kindertransport]


Let my hand push you away
my child
my horizon
that no man shall hurt
the tender flesh from my soul
do not look at me like that
for one day many years remote
you shall understand
how hard it was to tear
my dreams for ever more

Go
go as far as the wind
will carry you
as far away from the stench
of the war that cuts
without pity parents from children
with the ease of a whistle blown
amidst a soil softened
by a wall of tears

Fly with the wind
let the softness of your hair
melt down barriers
and turn cold hearts into
melting love

May God cut the hand
that pushed you so far
and may God bless
that same hand for having
pushed you on that afternoon
so long ago

You don't remember any more
not even when you stand
upon a hilltop
letting the breeze
caress you like once I use to do.

 

Go Away
Oil on Canvas     60 x 48 inches     2004

After

Perhaps the darkness of the void
can mimic the emptiness in my heart.
I have lost friend and family alike
shedding their faces from my daily life
holding to their memories like
an infant holds a soft blanket
in a dreary night.

Rain pounding on the window panels
like starving people on the market's doors;
thunder rumbling in the distant valleys
drowning with its power any cries

Blood rushing through arteries
like water crashing over rocky river beds
and eyes wide opened and unblinking
looking at the darkness for a ray of hope.

Pain rushing through my veins
like a mountain river rushing from above
and the foaming waters cannot erase
images of tears welling in their eyes.

But these are all memories
and I am all alone
like a crumbling monolith
on a desert landscape
battered by the winds after the calm.

 

After
Oil on Canvas     48 x 38 inches     2004

THE WAIT

I have lost track
of how long it has been,
I have lost new
and old friends
to hate and disease,
I gave up counting their tears
while mine dried up in despair,
I no longer look up
at the stars,
and the Sun can not
heat up my entrails.
If I walk one day free
through those gates
will I be in or out
of this insane world?
I no longer can walk,
I no longer can love,
I only can wait.

 

New Painting
Acrylic on Canvas     30 x 22 inches     2000



THE GIRL SERIES

In 1960 I began to work with the concept of "girl" as a symbol of our society and started "The Girl Series". The series depicts how the artist perceives the manner in which society looks at women. Society’s weaknesses are reflected in my girls. Each painting constitutes a psychological or sociological observation on a particular topic. The titles given to the paintings are not superfluous, rather, they provide additional cues for the comprehension of the paintings.

-Saul Balagura-

Girl With Gucci Bag
Oil on Canvas     24 x 20 inches     2004






Girl with Red Hat and No Shoe
Oil on Canvas    33 x 24 inches     1962


Girl: The Widow                             Acrylic on Canvas   48 x 38 inches   2000


Girl: Madame Ex
Acrylic on Canvas      60 x 30 inches     2001



Girl: Conversing With Elisa
Oil on Canvas      48 x 38 inches     2003

 

HELEN’S PASSPORT PHOTO

Surprised by the instant of light
that pierced your eyes
in search of your soul,
now frozen in time
for others to watch
as you in vain go wondering
in search of a golden dream
that can never be reached,
your image to become
invalid should any attempt be made
to retouch it so that it
may be more akin to you.

Girl: Helens's Passport Photo
Oil on Canvas   24 x 20 inches   2004

PORTRAIT OF MRS. FRONT

Good morning Mrs. Front
and although you may not believe it
today is a glorious day,
windy but without rain.

I came to give you this package,
someone left it on my front porch
even though it clearly says:
number 1936 Frontage Road.

Have not seen you for ages
even though I live across
— a few yards from the front
of my door to your door.

What are you looking at Mrs. Front?
Why don't you pause
your eyes upon my eyes
rather than looking beyond?

What are you hiding behind?
What are your thoughts?
What can you tell me now,
so many years after that day?

 

Portrait of Mrs. Front
Oil on Canvas     40 x 30 inches     2004

 

PRETTY GIRL WITH UGLY DOLL

Oh! What a beautiful girl she is
and how proud her parents are
to have a girl,
a beautiful girl at that!

During days as long as lifetimes
locked in her room
pretty girl watches birds flying by
across the ether of the bluest of skies
surrounded by the things she likes.

And of all her toys and dolls
the pretty girl likes the most
the ugliest of all her dolls
the one with the yellow straw hair
and the cockeyed eyes
with one short eyebrow
and the long beaked nose.

 

PRETTY GIRL WITH UGLY DOLL
Acrylic on Canvas     40 x 30 inches     1998