A Brown Folder – Homage to Felix Bloch
Curator: Ruthy Lubin
27. 1. - 28. 2. 2017: Gallery On The Fence, 23 Zeitlin, Tel Aviv
“During my visit to “Beit Theresienstadt”, my eyes were caught by a harrowing work of the artist Felix (Ferdinand) Bloch. The picture he drew in 1943, about a year before he was tortured to death, depicts daily life in the ghetto. Felix Bloch, a graphic designer by profession, described symbolically through an impressive sketching technique an episode of chaotic life that had taken place between the ghetto walls. What caught my attention, and to a great extent gave dramatic meaning to the whole picture, was the format Felix Bloch has chosen for his work.
This choice, of course, was not question of his preference but rather stemmed from complete lack of choices. Felix Bloch, who worked at the “Drawing Office” of the Technical Department in ghetto Theresienstadt, simply used an old brown cardboard folder, this was the only “paper” he had. In secret he sketched a visual text, silent testimony, depicting the horrors he had to go through in Theresienstadt. His drawings, later on, served as an evidence during the trials of the Nazis.
Many artists from Israel and from abroad, such as Shalom Neuman, Rafi Baler, Doron Polak, Esther Beer Percal, Tamar Hirschl, Oshrat Bentor, Bracha Guy, Miriam Shalev, Lea Dolinsky or Edna Elstein, have paid, by their artistic expression, a tribute to Felix Bloch. The only thing they should respect was the basic material – brown cardboard folder. By using various techniques such as print, photography, drawing, collage, readymade, etching, relief, working in oil and acrylic they created a very impressive exhibition arousing memories and pains. Moreover, they honored, in their special way, this gifted artist who perished in the holocaust. This exhibition helped to fulfill the genuine intention of Bloch’s work, i.e. to show to the entire world the real face of the Ghetto.”
Felix (Ferdinand, Friedrich) Bloch was born on August 8, 1898 in Koenigswart (Kynžvart in Czech), Czechoslovakia. Before the war he worked as a graphic designer in Vienna, then in 1938 he emigrated to Milan, Italy, but in the end returned back to Prague. There he worked for the Jewish community teaching classes about graphics of propaganda. On July 30, 1942 he was deported with the transport Aav to Ghetto Theresienstadt where he joined the drawing office at the Technical Department. As many other artists he was drawing in secret, mostly trying to document the daily life in the Ghetto. On July 17, 1944 he was arrested together with a few other artists, transferred to Small Fortress Prison and blamed for „atrocity propaganda“. In reality the artists did try to smuggle their works out of the ghetto but unluckily were caught. Bloch was cruelly tortured and died in the prison on October 31, 1944.
The Beit Theresienstadt Museum, Kibbutz Givat Chaim Ichud, Emek Chefer was established by an association of survivors of the Ghetto Theresienstadt. The exhibitions are based on documentary material from the Ghetto preserved in its archives. There is also a very active Education Center that tells, in many various ways, the story of Ghetto Theresienstadt to the public.
The exhibition is a contribution to the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The original works will be presented in September 2017 in The Ghetto Museum of Terezin Memorial in the Czech Republic.
Photo Courtesie Czech Centre Tel Aviv