Chagall and his "White Slaying"

   American art historian Horst Woodmar Johnson summed up modern art as “three trends of expression, abstraction, and fantasy.” If this assertion is true, then the masterpiece of Russian modern painter Mars Chagall’s The White Sorrow " is neither abstract, nor can it be classified into the category of expressionism, because it is full of many imaginary and fantasy things, which cannot be seen in reality at all, and obviously belongs to the latter. The painting uses eclectic free and open methods to express the author's memories of childhood, the accusation of Tsarist despotism and fascist crimes. In his writings, people without wings can fly in the air, and events in different periods and regions can also be combined into one painting. Houses can roll over on the ground, and even stand upside down, like some buildings made of paper that can be flipped upside down with the wind without much weight. This kind of free expression may seem absurd and violates the reality of reality, but it does come from life, not out of thin air, but the result of the painter's childish mood in his recollection of the past, and the result of his imagination.

  Imagination is the guarantee of artistic vitality, and it is an indispensable thing in creation. Without it, the work of art would be rigid and rigid. Without sufficient imagination, there will be no vivid and touching masterpieces such as the immortal Greek and Roman Mythology and my country's Journey to the West. In these two books, many are not seen in life. For example, Sun Wukong can turn 108,000 miles in a somersault, and Apollo, the sun god, can change in a thousand ways. But we don't doubt its authenticity. Because these are gods with superhuman powers, but to understand the "abnormal" phenomena in Chagall's paintings, we must start by understanding his life and his time.

  In 1887, Chagall was born into a poor Jewish family in Vyebsk, Belarus. My father worked as a coolie in a herring wholesale store. "Whenever I saw my father lift those heavy objects and fiddle with the little herring with his frozen hands, my heart huddled together like a turkey cracker." He recalled bitterly in his book My Life.

  In the Tsarist era, under the influence of ethnic discrimination policies, Jews had almost no place in Russia. It was not until the third partition of Poland in 1795, from which the tsar obtained millions of new Jewish subjects, that the original discriminatory policy was slightly relaxed in order to alleviate the contradiction, but there was no substantial change. The persecution of Jews continued. Vicious incidents such as burning their books, closing their schools, massacring their people, and destroying their churches continue to happen. All of these, the painter saw or heard in his childhood, and described them in his book.

  During the Tsarist era, Jews were restricted from moving even within the country. Even going to St. Petersburg must first be approved by the authorities, and the group of people approved is very narrow, only those who have a regular job and a regular income there, painters or college students who have studied there. Chagall, a student, had the honor of being one of them, arriving in Petersburg in 1907. The future opened the door for him to succeed.

  People who are vulnerable, oppressed, or in difficult circumstances are often very compassionate and willing to help those similarly unfortunate around them. Therefore, wealthy Jews in Petersburg at that time, such as doctors, lawyers and bankers, often volunteered to donate money to help college students who had outstanding achievements in their own nation to study abroad. Chagall became the lucky one again and came to Paris, the capital of art, determined to serve his nation after he completed his studies.

  The tortured Jesus in the painting is nailed to a white cross that occupies the center of the composition. He had apparently been tortured to death, his head lowered feebly, and there was no obvious expression of pain on his face. Rather than suffering, he was calmly meditating, willing to use his misfortune to change the misery of the people.

  To the left of Jesus is a burning synagogue. A burly man in the uniform of a Hitler vanguard was rushing in front of the church. His face and hands were red, and he was clearly a murderer covered in the blood of the people, a vicious Nazi. He is addicted to murder, arson, robbery and destruction of human culture, so that the classic books, cultural relics and sacred religious ritual items of ancient sages and sages are everywhere. The dark red patch above the church, which some say is the "anti-swastika flag" (see "World Art", No. 1, 2000, p. 83), shows who is the culprit of this disaster. It is reminiscent of the "Crystal Night" massacre that took place in November 1938. And the creation time of the painting happened in 1938, so it cannot be said that it has nothing to do with this bloody event.

  On November 7, 1938, German diplomat Rath was shot and killed by Jewish college student Glenshpan in Paris. Hitler used this as an excuse to launch a mad genocide against Jews throughout Germany and Austria, about 177 synagogues were burned and demolished, thousands of Jewish shops were looted, hundreds of Jews were killed in this event, and because of the atrocities everywhere All were shards of smashed glass, which people later ironically called "Night of Crystals".

  In the lower right corner of the picture is a man fleeing in a hurry, wearing an overgrown smock, typical of the Jewish attire of Viebsk. A pocket that was not very full was draped over his shoulder. This shows that the situation happened suddenly, and he could only hurriedly pack a few valuables around him when he fled. In front of him was a half-unfolded scroll-shaped book, which was burning roaringly. It was a Torah that the Jewish people regarded as their code of conduct, their Bible. Usually it is kept in the church. One part of it is to be recited every Sabbath. Boys also had to read it aloud in Hebrew when they joined the commune. Receive a doctrinal education by reciting a section a week. It can be seen that it is of great significance in Jewish life. Some say it was the foundation of Jewish social cohesion, the guarantee of their solidarity, victory over foreign aggression, and survival. Burning it is of course the greatest disrespect to the Jews. There is another open book next to the "Torah", which was abandoned on the ground, which shows the hatred of fascists for the progressive culture of mankind. Below is a helpless, crying woman with her baby in her arms.

  There are two bearded Jews in the lower left corner of the painting. One is like protecting his own life, holding the barrel-shaped "Torah" with both hands. As he ran, he turned around to see if there were any fascists chasing him. In front of him was a Jew in a green tunic. A white cloth hangs over his chest. The white cloth here is blank, but inside the sketches the words "lch bin Jude" (I am Jewish) are written in German. Obviously this brand is a great insult to him. He was spreading his hands helplessly, expressing resistance and questioning.

  To the right of the cross is another blazing fire. Two wooden huts typical of poor Jews in Viebsk are burning. A man has fallen to the ground, as if the end of the world has come. It's like a huge earthquake. The house was like a piece of paper, with no weight. It rolled over and over on the ground. Three residents escaped and sat on the ground in shock. The painter once recalled this terrible scene: "I can't remember, it may be a story my mother told me. Apparently it was the day I was born. Behind the Viebsk prison There was a fire in a log cabin on the side of the road. The whole town was in flames. The ghetto was burning. People carried beds and mattresses, helped mothers and children to escape to safety across town." This is the painter's childhood memories at the age of 51, which directly reflects the painful life of the Jews in the Tsarist era.

  Above the cross are 4 Jews floating in the air, three men and one woman, they seem to be saints who have ascended to immortality. Some are emotional, as if they are talking about something, maybe they are talking about the misfortunes in the world that they have seen with their own eyes. The man sitting in the middle had a prayer turban on his head and a leather scripture box on his forehead, as if praying for the unfortunate. The casket is an indispensable thing for Jewish believers. It contains excerpts from the "Bible" (Old Testament), and can read the scriptures at any time.

  These four people may be the prophets of the Sabbath, the saviors of all living beings. They were disturbed by witnessing the suffering of the world. Regarding the legend of the Prophet's coming, Chagall recounted in his memory: "My father raised the cup in his hand and asked me to open the door. It was so late in the day, let me open the door and open the door of my house to welcome the Prophet and Leah? From the blue sky, a white light came straight down into my eyes and into my heart. But was there Elijah and his white wagon? Maybe he still Outside, in the yard, is a thin old man coming into our house. Maybe a stooped beggar with a cloth bag on his shoulders and a cane in his hand? Here I come, you toast me Where's the wine?"

  There was indeed a white light falling from the sky in the center of the picture. It is like a road to the sky, from the side of the victim Jesus to the miserable world on earth. If you look closely, there is also the word "I·N·R·I" on the halo of Jesus, which is the abbreviation of "King of the Jews" in Roman. Obviously, this is a Jew, not Jesus in the eyes of Westerners. .

  In the upper left of the picture, there is also a group of people with red flags and weapons in their hands, and under the call and leadership of a person, they rushed towards the direction of Jesus' crucifixion. Maybe they are the real deliverers of the people, and even Jesus is among them. Although there is no clear sign on the red flag, we know that Chagall was a painter who lived in the former Soviet Union for five or six years after the October Revolution. He had witnessed the revolution that fought for the liberation of the oppressed. After that, he not only served as the people's commissar of Viebsk, but also was ordered to build an art school there, and lived a happy life after marriage. Later, it was only after a certain distance from the authorities in the creative method that he finally chose to leave. He went to Paris in 1922 and never returned. But he not only had no aversion to the politics of the authorities, but also witnessed and participated in many mass movements at that time.



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