Mauricio Lasansky: Kaddish Series

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Kaddish is commonly known as a mourner’s prayer, but in fact, variations on the Kaddish prayer are routinely recited at many other times, and the prayer itself has nothing to do with death or mourning. The prayer begins “May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified in the world that He created as He willed. May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days …” and continues in much that vein. After a great loss like a death, one might expect a person to lose faith in G-d or to cry out against G-d’s injustice. Instead, Judaism requires a mourner to stand up every day, publicly and reaffirm faith in G-d despite this loss. To do so insures to the merit of the deceased due to the public expression of such faith in the face of personal loss. While the recently bereaved recite Kaddish for a specific relative, all Jews recite Kaddish for all who went before.

From this tradition, Argentinain born artist Mauricio Lasansky hones echo into statement, the Jew into all man. Lasansky‚Äôs Kaddish Series, a series of eight intaglio prints, was completed in 1978 as his answer of peace and survival in relation to the Jews lost in the holocaust. The series, which took three years to produce, is the result of a lifetime of intaglio experimentation. Seemingly straightforward, the Kaddish prints are technically complex. While shape, size and subject matter are unifying elements, the prints offer a continuing variation in technique and color. Etching, engraving, soft-ground, aquatint and other techniques are combined in the multi-plate prints, which have as many as 40 separate pieces in a single image, meticulously fitted together like a puzzle. Each technique lends its unique voice to the complexity of the whole, creating a range from aquatint’s velvety black, atmospheric qualities of space, to the delicate and fragile drypoint line.

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