A WINDOW INTO THE LIFE AND WORKS OF YOSEF OSTROVSKY
Yosef Ostrovsky was born in 1935 in the small provincial town of Shepetovka (Ukraine), where Jews were significant part of population. His artistic talents surfaced at an early age. When he was 15 years old he was accepted in the Department of Painting of the Odessa State Academy of Art.
He graduated from the Academy at the age of 20 and was accepted to the USSR Union of Artists. His early works - landscapes, still life, and family portraits. He participated in countrywide and international exhibitions.
Yosef Ostrovsky always rejected definitions of his style or himself in standard terms and didn't like "stylistic classifications". He says, "I am an artist. Not a 'classical artist', not a 'modern artist'. Just an artist. Only then I am free to express my philosophy on canvass".
His most important works have been produced during the 70-90 years and were based on early childhood memories of his Jewish heritage: his grandfather is praying in the synagogue, his mother is lighting Sabbath candles, his family is sitting at the table during High Holydays.
From childhood impressions paintings were born one after another. Later they became his famous "Jewish cycle". Most often these are portraits: shtetl's Jewish musicians, craftsmen, Jewish sages… Among Jewish works there are topical paintings that are based on motifs of Torah and Tanah.
He said about works of this cycle: "Eternal themes are of general concern. The language of art, of feeling, knows no borders. The more deeply you penetrate the soul of your own nation, the more understandable your art becomes to other nations."