6 – Expressionist


From the art books, sketchbooks, and manuscript notes in his personal papers, it is clear that Alan Kaufman is a student of human expression, especially through careful study of eyes, the deep windows into human souls.  In one undated sketch diary and notebook he wrote, "I don't draw faces, so much as that which is alive in them. Their spirits."

Kaufman’s art is a strong component in his archive at the University of Delaware, largely complementing Jewish identity and experiences but not limited to these themes.  Professor Polly Zavadivker, director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Delaware, edited and contributed to Alan Kaufman’s Visionary Expressionism: a Zionist Art, the catalog of a 2007 exhibition of Alan Kaufman’s art in San Francisco.

Alan Kaufman was asked about the five paintings and mixed media shown in this small exhibit.

Much of my art is Holocaust-driven and when painting I have often felt haunted by imagined visitations from those Jewish people who were slain.

In this particular series the faces represent the murdered, materializing from out of fragments of something—a culture, a People, a civilization?—that has been destroyed.

At least one of the fragments has a crenulated edge, like human teeth.

The numbers running in many of the pieces symbolize both the numbers tattooed onto the concentration camp victims as well as the sheer dizzying magnitude of the figure Six Million, which I have never successfully been able to envision or comprehend.

Alan Kaufman e-mail to Rebecca Johnson Melvin

April 9, 2017