Moshe Kastel Museum, Maale Adumim 2017

Letter to Letter / Shmuel (Anatoly) Schelest

The title «Letter to Letter» of Shmuel (Anatoly) Schelest's exhibition is connected to a turning point in which he found small letter's in his monotype prints which turned out to be Hebrew letters, an event which drew him on a path towards Judaism. A journey starting in Germany and continuing in Israel where he officially converted, settling in Ma'aleh Adumim. Choosing to work in a studio in «Quality House» overlooking the old city, he fulfilled a childhood dream of arriving to the Jerusalem after reading the bible at the age of ten.  

Schelest's works are now exhibited in the new temporary exhibition hall at the Moshe Castel Museum of Art. A colorful triptych «Power of Nature» (1999) on the western wall was made in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where he moved with his family from Kiev, following the Chernobyl disaster. A monumental «Talit» (2003) found across, is part of a first installation «In Search of the Blue Thread» with his wife Marina (Leibowitz) Schelest made in Germany. One can easily recognize four gates framed with the Hebrew Aleph-Beit letters from their second joint installation «Gates of Prayer» (2004). 

«Jacob's Dream» (2009) on the north wall across from «Joseph's Coat» (2015) form the dream axis of the exhibition, hinting that dreams are common artistic, mystical and cultural material. Monotype prints which are central to Schelest's working process are unique because they are made as «action printing», using his own hand to transfer the image like a Chinese calligraphic master. This technique combining the planned and the unexpected results in a single (mono) print, a rarity in our post-mechanical and digital era. The color axis in the exhibition moves from the post-impressionistic Tashkent triptych to Primitivistic Egypt stories to the minimalist 'Talit' (2003), a Jewish version of the spiritual «White on White» by Malevich.

Shmuel (Anatoly) Schelest's artworks are guests in the Moshe Castel Art Museum. One should note some mutual interests in Bible stories and letters in Jewish Mysticism of both artists, though different in style and time.

Osnat Shapira, Curator