3 May – 12 June 2005
To mark the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe and of the liberation of the Concentration Camps, Tate Britain will mount a special display of the work of Roman Halter. Halter’s paintings are a deeply personal expression of the atrocities he witnessed and experienced as a young Jewish man under Nazi rule. Halter is not a professional painter but the power and sincerity of these works has led Tate Britain to exhibit them in a special temporary display of four works to mark this most important of anniversaries.
Born in Chodecz, Poland, the seventh and youngest in his family, Halter was twelve when the war started. He was moved with a part of his family to the ghetto in Lodz where he became a metalworker. By 1942 his entire family was dead. In 1944 he was sent via Auschwitz and Stutthof concentration camps to slave labour in Dresden, where he survived the Allied air raids in February 1945. He also escaped from a Nazi death march. At the end of the war he returned to Chodecz to find he was one of only four survivors from the town’s 800 Jews. He eventually travelled to Britain and, in time, became an architect.
Only twenty-five years later was Halter able to use his memories of those terrible times to make art works. Their style reflects his work in stained glass design. Halter fuses his own memories with images from art history to produce works that are, at once, both highly personal and of universal significance. In the painting Shlomo, for example, the anguished body of the crucified Christ known from Renaissance painting comes to represent the body of Halter’s brother, hanged for bringing bread in from outside the camp for his colleagues and himself. Woman Wearing a Mantilla was inspired in part by Goya’s portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel, in the National Gallery, which evoked memories of Halter’s mother and the Jewish women of Chodecz who wore such veils to the synagogue on the Sabbath.
A free event, ‘Memories of the Holocaust: Colin Wiggins on Roman Halter’ takes place on Friday 10 June at 13.00 in the Auditorium in the Clore Gallery at Tate Britain.
Roman Halter’s story can be read at: www.holocaustmemorialday.gov.uk/resources/survivorstories/halter2
Open every day 10.00-17.50