Read the whole article at
https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/present ... to-us-all/
I will also copy it later tonight to the news section, with kind permission of the author. Inna discusses, among other things, our Bench on Hydra.
... On August 31, there will be a special ceremony in Vilnius, Lithuania. On this ceremony in the inner court of the nice street of the Vilna Old Town, a sculpture of Leonard would be unveiled, the first in the world. Everybody who saw the image of the sculpture and those who knew Leonard, just loved it. It simply charming, and it does bear the fine features of Leonard’s character, his special fleure so very well. Besides, it is simply a very good art.
I am sure that Leonard would be terrified of the idea of making him in stone, he was organically modest; but I also know that he would understand it and appreciate the very best intentions of the people who did it. He was also organically respectful towards the people because he loved and understood them. “ A real Cohen”, – as my husband still says on him.
The sculptor who created this first in the world full-size figure memorial of the legendary poet and singer, Romualdas Kvintas, was a very special person, too. Unfortunately, he would not be there on the unveiling ceremony. Kvintas passed away in October 2018 after his short battle against aggressive cancer. He was just 66. Leonard’s sculpture was one of his last five works. It was finalised by young sculptor Martynas Gabuas, on his own initiative, as Elge Kvintiene, Romualdas’ widow has told me.
Sculptor Romualdas Kvintas. With kind permission of Elge Kvintiene.
This very well known in Lithuania and Europe sculptor also have had an open heart on his palm, just like Leonard. That’s why this sculpture is so authentic, I think. Kvintas is known for his iconic by now works commemorating legendary Jewish Doctor Cemach Sabad in the heart of Vilna, and many other works dedicated to the Jewish people, our history, and the memory of the Holocaust. Among those works are both very touching and so strong sculptures in Seduva which are part of the ongoing The Lost Shtetl Museum and Memorial Centre there, a unique project conveying our loving memory to the vanished, or rather, annihilated world and its people.
As for his sculpture of Cohen, Kvintas has worked on it for five years, and one can see that the fine features of every kind of this rare piece of art demands such time, indeed. At some stage of the work, Norwegian businessman and philanthropist John Afseth saw the sculpture of Leonard Cohen’s in making and proposed to support the undertake financially. On Saturday 31st, he would be there at the unveiling ceremony together with his Lithuanian wife Austrine Baronaite who did support the project, too.
They would be joined by the Vilnius mayor Remigijus Simasius and his wife who both took the case of erecting the sculpture of Leonard Cohen in Vilna close to their hearts. Currently, the Vilnius City Administration is looking for a permanent visible place to this sculpture in the capital of Lithuania where the Cohen’s family is from. Egle Kvintiene, widow of sculptor Romualdas Kvintas, mentioned that she is surprised that the sculpture would be the first one in the world. I am not.
Leonard is very popular in Lithuania, always was and will be, I think; the same as Joseph Brodsky. There is a strata of intellectuals there which marks the cultural and psychological landscape of this place full of dramas and filled with richness of thought and culture through generations. I might be subjective in this, but this is what I feel and how I know and understand this place being a Litvak, as my husband is, and as Leonard Cohen was.
The reaction of the people in Lithuania regarding the appearance of the first in the world sculpture of Leonard Cohen in their capital it is what makes me smile. “What an amazing inspiration for us, for the city, for the capital of the country where the Cohen’s family is! What an honour it is, to us” – says one my friend, the head of the UNESCO office of the Old City, Gediminas Rutkauskas. “He makes it to Vilnius finally, Inna”, – told another dear friend, director of the Vilnius Public Jewish Library Zilvinas Beliauskas who loves Cohen and understands him in a mode of an atomic precision. Zilvinas dreamed of inviting Leonard to Vilnius, and we did even undertake some first steps with regard to that, but it was at the time when Leonard was already fragile, and ever delicate Zilvinas did not like to put an extra pressure upon his favourite man.
He makes it to Vilnius, Zilvinas, and he will be there for good, with that smile, and that fine gestures, and that smashy poetry that comes as if from our own inside , just we did not know the exact formulation until hearing it from him in a mixture of revelation and joke. And with that heart on palm directed towards all of us, every one, in his attentive and slightly boyish dealing with humanity. There are people who never age, 85 or what, because the degree of hope inside them is higher than average and it hardly gets diminished. Like in real Cohens.
What a present to us all, on Leonard’s 85th birthday.
August 2019 (C) Inna Rogatchi
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Inna Rogatchi is internationally acclaimed writer, scholar and film-maker, the author of widely prized film on Simon Wiesenthal The Lessons of Survival. Her professional trade-mark is inter-weave of history, culture and mentality. She is the author of the concept of the Outreach to Humanity cultural and educational projects conducted internationally by The Rogatchi Foundation of which Inna is the co-founder and President. She is the wife of the world renowned artist Michael Rogatchi. Inna's family is related to the famous Rose-Mahler musical dynasty. Her professional interests are focused on Jewish heritage, Holocaust and post-Holocaust, arts and culture. She is twice laureate of the Italian Il Volo di Pegaso Italian National Art, Literature and Music Award, the Patmos Solidarity Award, and the New York Jewish Children's Museum Award for Outstanding Contribution into the Arts and Culture (together with her husband). Inna Rogatchi is the member of the Board of the Finnish National Holocaust Remembrance Association.