Painted from Memory

Parallels between the work of Mayer Kirshenblatt and Charlotte Salomon

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These women have just given birth and are lying in bed exhausted. Their newborn babies are there for everyone to admire: the fathers, the proud grandparents, the maternity nurse - all are present.

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Charlotte has locked herself in the bathroom. She is sitting on the edge of the tub, pondering about life. Mayer has gotten up to pee. Because they don't have a toilet, at night he uses the special chamber pot in the kitchen.

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Two women are huddled over a table. One is Charlotte - she has painted herself as a girl learning to draw. The other is a wigmaker from Opatów as Mayer remembered her.

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A procession of Nazis marching through the streets of Berlin on January 30, 1933. Nothing will ever be the same. A year later, Mayer leaves Poland and in Hamburg he buys a ticket at the office of the Hamburg-American Ship Lines.

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At the table in Berlin, the guests are discussing their plans to emigrate. Mayer's family is celebrating the Exodus from Egypt (Passover). Mayer is sitting next to his grandfather; Charlotte is among the guests. The hostesses and hosts are seated at the heads of the tables; the food is being served.

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Mayer's vessel reaches Canadian waters after a trip lasting several weeks. Charlotte flees Berlin in January 1939. The train headed to Southern-France departing the station.

Between 1940 and 1942, Charlotte Salomon took refuge in Southern-France and spent day and night painting her life story: Life? or Theater?. Mayer Kirshenblatt started a new life in Canada. After many years of insistence by his daughter Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, at the age of 73, he finally began to paint what he remembered of his Polish childhood.

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