- born in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1950
- grandfather emigrated from Lithuania about 1900
- B.F.A., Concordia University, Montréal, Québec (1977)
click on thumbnails at left to view larger images
Herzl Kashetsky's work in the early 1980s tended to
reflect subjects common to the magic realist school, especially still life, focusing on
every day objects with an intensity that inevitably invests them with new and deeper
meaning. Initially belonging to a regional art movement centred in Atlantic Canada, the
magic realists combine almost photo-realist painting with a surrealist use of light and
objects to create images that superficially reflect reality, while commenting on the
nature of that reality through an unusual intensity of mood. Kashetsky's 1992 series, Beach
Stones, is an example of some of his most meticulous work, following up on a theme
that sprang from an 1989 series, Creation, about the seven days of Creation. In Beach
Stones each painting is a loving recreation of a beach stone surface, containing
dozens of stones piled together, in which each stone is treated with absolute realism,
having its own particular surface and shadow. Also at this time, he was painting family
portraits and self-portraits that in some ways became part of his 1996 series, A Prayer
for the Dead. Although he had been occasionally painting works on the theme of death
since 1974, a visit to Poland and some concentration camp sites in 1990 prompted him to
create this series, which he says was his way of paying respect to the dead, to the
victims of the Holocaust and also to those he has lost from his own life. He worked from
photographs, explaining, "I didn't live though the Holocaust, so I think it would be
a little pretentious of me to interpret the pain and suffering. I felt I should take the
facts and present them in a documentary style . . . so that you, yourself, would become a
witness to the Holocaust, because youre only twice removed" (1997). In this
series Kashetsky's style takes on a completely different, haunting tone, in the faces of
those dying, a crematorium door, a mass grave, all painfully recreated to the last detail.
Mass Grave, Bergen Belsen bears a strange resemblance to the beach stone series,
the bodies of the dead being jumbled together just like the stones, yet each one
commemorated through the artists careful and delicate rendering. Of the series,
curator Tom Smart has said: "As I came to know Herzl and his work as an artist, I
learned that his lifelong project is to bear witness to the large themes of humanity in
deeply meditative works. By seeking to understand the Holocaust, he travelled on a
pilgrimage to one of the death camps. His journey was not simply an artistic or
experiential quest, but also a spiritual pilgrimage to understand the personal dimensions
of tragic events" (1997). Kashetsky is also vice-chairman of the Saint John Advisory
Board and art advisor of the Saint John Jewish Historical Museum. He has taught classes at
the New Brunswick Community College. In 1992 he received an honorary doctorate from the
University of New Brunswick and a commemorative medal for outstanding artistic
contribution to the community, for Canada's 125th anniversary of Confederation. In 1997 he
received the New Brunswick Red Cross Humanitarian Award, and a best picture award at the
53rd annual exhibition of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour.
||A Prayer for the Dead
Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, New Brunswick; New Brunswick Museum, Saint
John, New Brunswick; Dalhousie University Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia
||Herzl Kashetsky: Beach
Studio Watch, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, New Brunswick
||Herzl Kashetsky: Clouds
Ring Gallery of Art, Saint John, New Brunswick
and the Beast
Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario
University of New Brunswick Art Centre, Fredericton, New Brunswick
||Herzl Kashetsky: Still Life
Ring Gallery of Art, Saint John, New Brunswick
|Bank of Montréal, Toronto, Ontario
Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, New Brunswick
Binney & Smith Inc., Easton, Pennsylvania
Britannia Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa, Ontario
Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Cumberland Drugs, Montréal, Québec
McDonald Investment Management, Inc., Toronto, Ontario
New Brunswick Art Bank
New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, New Brunswick
NORCEN Energy Resources, Calgary, Alberta
Petro Canada, Calgary, Alberta
Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario
Royal Collection of Drawings and Watercolours, Windsor Castle, England
Royal Trust Co., Moncton, New Brunswick
Saint John City Hall, Saint John, New Brunswick
University of New Brunswick Art Centre, Saint John, New Brunswick
|Bentley, Allen. "Herzl Kashetsky:
Clouds." ArtsAtlantic 10, no. 4 (Spring/Summer 1991): 22.
---. "Herzl Kashetsky on location in Saint John: recent paintings and
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---. "The vision of Herzl Kashetsky: civilization and the beast." Artpost 8,
no. 3 (Spring 1991): 6-8.
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Cronin, Ray. "Kashetsky's
prayer." ArtsAtlantic 15, no. 3 (Fall/Winter 1997): 22-25.
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7 no. 2 (Summer 1986) 15-16.
Lamport, Jack. Saint John Art Club Retrospective, 1908-1988. Fredericton, New
Brunswick: The Art Centre, University of New Brunswick, 1988.
Lumsden, Ian G. The Marion McCain Juried Exhibition. Fredericton,
New Brunswick: Beaverbrook Art Gallery, 1989.
Lemire, Morris. "Herzl Kashetsky: Beach
Stones." ArtsAtlantic 12, no. 2 (Spring/Summer 1993): 3-4
Lord, Barry. Survival Atlantic Style: Works by
Sixteen Artists from the Atlantic Provinces. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Mount Saint
Vincent University Art Gallery, 1979.
McNairn, Alan D. "Herzl Kashetsky: Still Life with
Dinosaur." The Art Post (May/June 1986): 18-19.
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New Brunswick: The Art Centre, University of New Brunswick, 1989.
Smart, Tom. Herzl Kashetsky: A Hidden Order.
Fredericton, New Brunswick: Beaverbrook Art Gallery, 1992.
---. "Man and art. Herzl Kashetsky's exhibit A
Prayer for the Dead completes a long pilgramage into the past." Saint John
Telegraph-Journal, 15 March 1997, n.p.
Smith, Frances K. Painting Now '76/77. Kingston,
Ontario: Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen's University, 1976.
Stanworth, Karen. "Civilization and the beast."
ArtsAtlantic 11, no. 1 (1991): 6-7.