Robin Bernstein: Beauty and Terror

Robin L. Bernstein

Exhibition Dates: October 2- November 14

3rd Saturday: October 17th, 11AM - 5PM

Meet the Artist: October 17th: 3-5PM

WestPark Workshop Gallery

Beauty & Terror features intricate string paintings by Bay Area artist Robin Bernstein.

Beautifully vivid compositions that appear to be paintings from a distance, each piece symbolically represents lesser-known atrocities and massacres that occured during the Holocaust, and takes the artist 4 to 6 months to complete. A pamphlet will be available for visitors to learn more about each historical event, from the Vel d’Hiv Roundup in Paris to the Death March to Volary in Czechoslavakia. This series of work serves to memorialize the tragedies that occurred, and educate the public, so that history is not forgotten or repeated.


Artist's Statement:

The work I make is difficult to place into a clear context.

At first glance, these pieces defy a clear medium. They can appear to be embroidery, mosaic, weaving, or painting. The colors are rich and the forms are attractive. The pieces are shaped freely, which catches the eye. They are “beautiful”.

You may be inclined and are invited to step very close to visually examine the surface. The subject matter may only then become viscerally apparent. A paragraph of text accompanies each piece, which retells the horrific act of violence and terror that the artwork memorializes.

The work in this exhibition is part of a complete series of 18 individual works that together make known events and aspects of the Holocaust. Some of these events are lesser known but the entirety serves us as historical, as educational, as memorial, and as art. The works are also warnings, as truth telling remains a role of the artist in society.

Much of the string that I use is vintage and originated in Europe. Each piece is composed of thousands and thousands of tiny cut pieces of string that have then been pressed into a bed of wax. Each work takes between 3 and 6 months to create. Each cut may represent the act of violence that was put to each victim of the Nazi Regime (be it by bullet, by gas, by fire, by starvation, by disease, and by other methods). Each cut may also be a reminder of the possibilities that were lost had over 6,000,000 Jews, people with disabilities, Roma, Jehovah’s Witnesses, a-socials, German political activists, and LGBTQ not been targeted and murdered. The ‘final solution” of the Jewish question is at the heart of this effort.

Systems of violence produce perpetrators, and I believe it is my responsibility as an artist to do what I can to produce a world that discourages the worst of human nature.