Russian artist Issachar Ber Ryback was a leading light for the Yiddish avant-garde movement. These lithographs depict his life in Ukraine before the pogroms following World War I. The pictures are full but stop short of being cramped. The humanity is everything in a maelstrom of turbulent emotions and physicality, arresting symbolism featuring in otherworldly portraits that merge intense reality and eerie fantasy.
After graduating from art school in Kiev in 1916, Ryback played a key role in the Yiddish avant-garde of the Soviet Union following the Russian Revolution. After his father was murdered by Petliura’s soldiers in 1921, he fled to Germany, settling in Berlin where he became a member of the Novembergruppe. After a return trip to Russia, working on a set design for a Yiddish theatre and undertaking a prolonged journey through the Jewish “kolkhozes” of Ukraine and Crimea, he moved to Paris in 1926. Here he lived at the heart of the city’s vibrant artistic life – including solo exhibitions at the Galerie aux Quatre Chemins (1928) and Galerie L’Art Contemporain (1929) – until his death in 1935.