In 1955, Marek Oberländer painted on a grey steel background a group of seven standing women whose heads are covered with grey-blue scarves falling down from their shoulders to the ground. The painting was entitled Kol Nidre. Kol Nidre is one of the most important prayers recited during Yom Kippur. It annuls all vows made under duress or in bad faith. This prayer shakes off our shackles, restores spiritual balance. Thanks to it, we become open to freedom.
The women in Oberländer’s painting look like mourners who are still grieving for their relatives who died in the war. The painting was made during the preparations for, now already legendary, an exhibition in Arsenal „Against War — Against Fascism”. The exhibition was a manifesto against the imposed postulates of socialist realism organized during the Stalinist repressions. It became a „symbolic event”, a sign of the so called thaw in the area of freedom of artistic expression in the socio-political transformations of People’s Republic of Poland.
The fact of painting Kol Nidre and Napiętnowani in 1955 at the exhibition in Arsenal proved that the artist had the courage to show that he was a free son of God’s chosen people.
Paintings by Marek Oberländer are being presented at the exhibition „Polish Art and the Holocaust” which we encourage you to see.