Natalie Portman once said," Everyone dreams of living in Paris," a city both beautiful and severely scarred by periods of cruelty, revolution and war. Artist Charles Goldstein doesn't just dream of Paris. This is where he was born and near where he lives now. However romantic the Paris of our dreams is, reality is different for Charles. The memories he paints in Les Chemins de Memoire (The Paths of Memory) currently on exhibit at Touchstone Gallery, are rooted in the Holocaust and the disappearance of 84 members of his close family in France and in Poland.
Charles's expressionist abstract period started after the Algerian Independence war, when he realized that figurative painting couldn't describe the unspeakable. After a long period of work about his travels to India, he choose to work on Memory, about a family that he never met and which disappeared "as Ashes and Dust " during the Holocaust in Poland. In this series, he chose to define his identity and pay tribute to those who became “ashes and dust” through abstract paintings. Encouraged by French painters and heavily influenced by painters Mark Rothko, Alfred Manessier, Phillip Guston, and Franz Kline, Goldstein’s works are stirringly emotional, each revealing in richly somber tones the need to bear witness to a past that still haunts his soul.
Charles Goldstein began painting at an early age and has continued for at least 48 years. It is his life-long passion. Even when he was still in professional activities, Charles used to isolate himself in his atelier at night and work in there for hours, That discipline and experimentation with color and form serves him well in the memory paintings. His niece Anne Goldstein Levy describes the work this way: "Charles's juxtaposition of color and form impart feelings of solitude and, ultimately, freedom. Each work skillfully conveys a mélange of melancholy, a contemplative visual soliloquy that is both cathartic and visually stunning. A skilled use of materials expresses a deep-seated passion and a broad depth of emotion. Vivid colors meld and drift, ebb and flow, underscoring loss, sorrow, and a quest for self-discovery. One of the most remarkable characteristic of Charles 's work is the way he handles colors, structure and different mediums with oil paint."
Charles now lives near Barbizon, less than 1km from the Chateau of Vaux –le- Vicomte, one of France's national treasures. In a recent documentary Academicien Jorge Semprun, other historians, and several art majors discuss the importance of The Memory in Charles paintings. Charles exhibits his work at several Parisian galleries. One of his large paintings traveled all over the world with an European exhibit . His last exhibit just ended in NYC.
When Charles is not working or painting, he dedicates his time to the others . Charles has been decorated by Nicolas Sarkosy with the Legion d'Honneur for being an exemplary citizen. For 27 years he has been deputy MaYor of Melun-in Seine et Marne. He was in charge of the cultural services of Seine et Marne, is a former president of the Rotary club, and today he is on the advisory board of the CRIF (Conseil Representatif des Institutions Juives de France) in Paris.
Les Chemins de Memoire (The Paths of Memory) continues until June 29, 2014 at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC. You are invited to the closing Reception on Saturday, June 28, 6 8:30pm. 202-347-2787 firstname.lastname@example.org ; Wednesday- Friday 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 12-5. --Anne Goldstein, Rosemary Luckett