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Biography

Artistic biography

Michael Rogatchi is a world-renowned artist, the European master of metaphorical expressionism. He lives and works in Finland and Italy.

He has held over 70 personal exhibitions, and his works belong to leading museums, public institutions and private collections worldwide, including the London Museum of Jewish Art, the UK National Art Collection, the New York Jewish Children's Museum, the Art Collection of the Municipality of Jerusalem, the Simon Wiesenthal Jewish Documentation Centre art collection; the art collection of Il Pitigliani culture centre, Rome, Italy; the Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine Museum; the MHB SA Art collection, Paris; the art collection of The Prague Times, Czech Republic; the Laogai Museum in Washington DC, and many others.

Among his many other awards, in 2013 Michael Rogatchi has been awarded with the Award for the Outstanding Contribution in Arts and Culture by the New York Jewish Children's Museum, the largest museum for children in the USA. Michael had been awarded there alongside legendary chief of the New York Police Department Ray Kelly and a great musician of our time, pianist Evgeny Kissin.

Michael was the only living artist who had been invited to participate in the special Charity Gala of His Royal Highness Prince's Trust in London (2011). His work Weaved by Light had been the only work presented alongside with Picasso's work during the live charity auction; among the works present at the silent auction of the event, there were originals by DaliChagallMiroMatisse and Renoir.

Among Michael's other notable exhibitions there are Bolero at the Cork Street Gallery in London (2006-2007), and The Life of Two of Us & Melody for Two that had been exhibited for 10 months in Florence, Italy (2010-2011) with great success, and had been included into the Art Treasures tour of Florence alongside with the exhibition of the works by Botticelli.

Michael had been the only artist whose personal exhibition of his original art series Jewish Melody had been included in the official programme of the IV World Litvak Congress (Vilnius, Lithuania, autumn 2013). After several months of exhibiting in Lithuania, the collection has been moved to Tallinn, Estonia, to the Estonian Jewish Centre where its opening has marked the Special Event commemorating the Day of Jerusalem and the 7th anniversary of Tallinn's new synagogue (in May 2014).

Michael's collection Libertango. After Piazzola is due to be present at the special exhibition in conjunction with the Estoril Film Festival in Portugal in the autumn of 2014.

Previously, his collection Amarcord Forever – in co-authorship with his wife Inna Rogatchi had been exhibited in Venice, Italy (September 2012) in conjunction with the 69th Venice Film Festival.

Among Michael's internationally acclaimed series, there are Paris Windows and Symphony of Joy, both are expressive, inventive and distinctive bodies of work reflecting the world of music and human feelings.

Alongside his well-developed and critically acclaimed lyrical paintings and works depicting the world of music and arts, the Jewish theme is essential for Michael Rogatchi's art. He is the author of The Patriarchs & The Matriarchs, a unique series in the history of art; and is critically acclaimed for his distinctive style in his works of contemporary spiritual art comprising his Forefathers project.

Among the other themes related to the Jewish heritage, Michael is known for his series on the Holocaust and Jewish history, and also for his lyrical paintings on music, soul, and memory.

Michael's exhibition The Jewish Way, a joint project with the Espoo Theatre in the middle of the 1990s, was the first ever exhibition of Jewish-themed painting in Finland, and is still the only one organized in the country.

From the mid 1990s through the 2000s, Michael had carried on a major tour Dream, Memory, Love as an unprecedented art & charity global international event.

During the tour, his personal exhibition in Israel – at the Jerusalem Gerard Behar Centre (2004-2005) had been extended twice due to its high popularity.

Among other notable exhibitions of the tour, there were several exhibitions in Poland, at the world-famous Jewish Historical Institute (Warsaw), the Juidaica Culture Centre (Krakow), and the Historical Centre of Oswensim(Auschwitz city).

Michael's big personal exhibitions were also organised during the tour in all three Baltic countries – at the famous Black-Head Brotherhood Museum of Riga (Latvia), City Rathouse of Vilnius (Lithuania), and the National Library Gallery of Tallinn (Estonia).

In other European cities, Michael's exhibitions in both Rome (Il Pitigliani cultural centre) and Florence (Jewish Museum) have been notable successes.

His exhibition at the very well known Etz Chaiym Gallery in London, the only synagogue which is an art museum and gallery in the UK, had been another milestone, supporting a special medical programme at the Royal London hospital designated to train nurses for special treatment of cancer patients with a particular kind of cancer.

In general, Michael has had many personally successful and notable exhibitions in London, and he has been highly acclaimed by many British art critics. Not surprisingly, he was also elected as the only foreign artist among 70 participants to become a finalist in the highly reputed The National Artist Contest (UK). His work Dance has been chosen for second place in the final and Michael has been awarded with a special diploma by the panel comprised of such famous artists as RB Kitaj, the head of the Tate MusemNicholas Serota among others.

Later on, a special programme was organised by the BBC – on the occasion of Michael's Bolero exhibition in London – when people were invited to visit the exhibition and then a special one hour programme was set up to discuss the master's works of metaphorical expressionism. The programme turned out to be very popular, and to the surprise of its BBC organisers, had to be repeated many times, with a new set of audience members discussing Michael's art work.

Michael's works, which belong to leading British art museums, made it possible for his art to be included in the very selective and significant catalogue of the UK National Art Treasures complied by the BBC in 2012.

Personal story

Michael was born in 1953 to a Jewish family in the Far Northern East, in a place known as the Valley of Death, the horrible place of Stalin's Gulag.

Following the destiny of Michael's father, who was kept as a political prisoner in the Gulag concentration camp, following the death of Stalin, his family was expelled to Kazakhstan.

Overcoming many difficulties, Michael continued his education as an expert in biochemistry and graduated in 1980 from one of the best Soviet universities (Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine) as a Master of Science in neurochemistry.

Because of Michael's scientific achievements, he was invited to work and to develop his scientific career in the world-famous Academic Institute for Experimental Medicine in St Petersburg (formerly Leningrad). His research and studies were highly appreciated and widely published both in Russia and internationally.

While in St Petersburg, Michael also completed his artistic education. Throughout the 1980s, he studied under the mentorship of several leading artists, including Mark SmirnovIrina Bruni, and others from the St Petersburg Academy of Arts and the St Petersburg Theatre and Cinematography University.

Following his decision to switch from science to art, Michael started his artistic career as set- and costume designer for a number of the leading theatres in St Petersburg: the Komissarzhevsky Theatre, the Leninsky Komsomol Theatre, and the Experiment Theatre.

Then in the late 1980s, he was deputy director and chief set- and costume designer for the new, very successful and popular Narodny Dom (The People's House) Theatre in St Petersburg. For his works there, he had been awarded in the early 1990s with many international prizes for the best set- and dress designs, in particular for a cult performance authored by his wife Inna, Playing the King.

In the early 1990s, this performance went on a first-ever charity tour of the Russian theatre abroad, with performances given in support of Amnesty International and the Finnish Cancer Society.

In the end of the 1980s, Michael moved to Finland with his wife Inna Rogatchi, an internationally acclaimed writer, scholar, film-maker and art photographer. They have both become Finnish citizens and are living and working in Finland, Italy and the USA.

Michael is widely invited for teaching and conducting master-classes at various universities, cultural centers and art institutions in Europe, USA and Israel.

Implementing Michael's idea, and in memory of their only daughter Julia-Yenike who died of cancer that was contracted as the result of the Chernobyl catastrophe, together, Inna and Michael founded the well-known international cultural charity: Arts Against Cancer (AAC), whose honorary chairman was maestro Mstislav Rostropovich. Among the members of this charity and its active supporters were Maurice Bejart, Sir Paul and Linda McCartney, famous violist Vladimir Spivakov, the Queen Margreth of Denmark, Barbara Bush, and many other distinguished public figures worldwide.

After more than decade of very successful and intense activities of the AAC, the Rogatchis continued their philanthropy via The Rogatchi Foundation established in 2004. The Foundation focuses on promotion and support of educational, historical and spiritual heritage, and still supports cancer patients and those in need.

There are many publications and reviews with regard to Michael Rogatchi's art. His artistic book Shadows of White(2003) has become a modern classic in the genre of the artist's own long essay commenting his works. In connection with the publication of the book, the late Simon Wiesenthal wrote to Michael saying: 'I am glad that there are people like you who will continue to remind people'. Today, Michael's book has been widely acclaimed and is to be found in many libraries and museums all over the world.

Michael's art was also presented in detail in TV programme Melody of Light: the Life and Art of Inna and Michael Rogatchi (JLTV, USA, 2013), an hour-long documentary profile of the Rogatchi artistic couple that has been produced and broadcast by JLTV, a major global TV channel based in Los-Angeles:

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