Rosemarie Koczy’s creations inspired by memories from her early childhood spent in Holocaust concentration camps are both beautiful and haunting.
These paintings, sculptures and drawings, which will be on display at the Queensborough Community College Art Gallery through Dec. 15, feature a series of gaunt, hollow-eyed people. They look out at the viewer with a strong gaze and stoicism on their faces.
“She was a self-taught master with an extraordinary visual acumen who poured her anguish into her art,” said Faustino Quintanilla, executive director of the QCC Art Gallery.
Koczy gained distinction as a weaver, then later in life began to draw, paint and carve, working up until her death at the age of 68 in 2007.
“One day it just all started coming out,” QCC gallery Assistant Director Lisa Scandaliato said of Koczy's start as an artist recalling the horrors of the Holocaust.
Many of Koczy’s black-and-white drawings serve as memorials for the countless people she saw die. The emaciated figures are wrapped in a shroud, a blanket the deceased are covered with in the Jewish tradition. The drawings, collectively entitled “I Weave You a Shroud,” comprise one of three series of her work that QCC is showing.
Through Koczy’s attention of detail a fury of ink lines wrap around each other and create the figures’ empty black eyes and the delicate lace that they are swathed in.
The second series, entitled “Standing Man,” shows the same person — a prisoner known only as Stacho — over and over on about 20 unstretched six-foot canvases. Each colorfully painted image of the man lives in a slightly different world, ranging from slightly psychedelic to eerie. But all pay homage to a man whose gestures to Koczy, who was only a toddler when she was imprisoned in the Nazi camps — including giving her his food — cost him his life. In all the works from the series, Stacho, with his arms stretched out, looks to be embedded or encased in abstract weeds or barbed wire.
The third of the mini-exhibits within the “Art As Witness” display showcases Koczy’s wood carvings, which bear names such as “Deportation Train.” The same haunting figure plays a role in all the pieces, commemorating a boy who served as her protector and friend during her time in the camps, according to Scandaliato.
Over all the exhibition pays beautiful homage to Koczy’s tragic memories.
When: through Dec. 15. Tuesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
Where: Queensborough Community College Art Gallery, 222-05 56 Ave., Bayside
Tickets:Free, (718) 631-6396, qccartgallery.org