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Yehouda Chaki (born in 1938), Mi Makir: 30698, 1998-1999. Courtesy of the artist.
Yehouda Chaki (born in 1938), Mi Makir: 30698, 1998-1999. Courtesy of the artist.
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Yehouda Chaki: Mi Makir

A Search for the Missing

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation from the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. As a tribute to the victims and survivors of the Shoah, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is presenting the exhibition Yehouda Chaki: Mi Makir; A Search for the Missing, by Montreal Jewish artist Yehouda Chaki.

Chaki never met his grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins, as they were all killed in Auschwitz. Born in Athens in 1938, he along with his parents and younger brother survived the Shoah by assuming Greek Orthodox identities and living in the countryside with a Christian family. In 1945, the four of them moved to Israel, where the artist experienced the daily trauma of Mi Makir (“Do you know this person?”), a national radio show that broadcast the messages of people appealing to the public for information on missing individuals or family members.

The exhibition Mi Makir features a collection of 117 portraits that represent the artist’s relatives who were erased from his life, as well as the millions of others who perished. Anonymous depictions of Nazi internment camp victims, each work bears a number in the top left corner corresponding to an actual person who was exterminated. These drawings attest to the torment, terror, agony and desperation that people suffered.

A sculpture composed of piles of books scattered on the floor recalls the infamous burnings of books by Jewish, liberal and leftist authors who were deemed un-German by Nazi student groups. It also evokes the shattered glass and ruins of vandalized Jewish homes and businesses as well as the synagogues that were burned by violent mobs throughout Germany during Kristallnacht, on the night of November 9, 1938.

Yehouda Chaki (born in 1938), Mi Makir, acrylic, India ink and latex. Courtesy of the artist.
Credit
Yehouda Chaki (born in 1938), Express Train from Salonika to Auschwitz, 1969, oil on canevas. Collection of the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University. Inv. 969.29. Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay

Yehouda Chaki (born in 1938), Express Train from Salonika to Auschwitz, 1969, oil on canevas. Collection of the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University. Inv. 969.29. Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay

About the artist

Born in Athens in 1938, Yehouda Chaki lived in Tel-Aviv from 1945 to 1960. In 1962, he immigrated to Montreal, where he still lives and works today. Chaki completed his studies in Tel-Aviv and at the École des beaux-arts in Paris. From 1967 to 1989, he was the Head of Painting and Drawing at the Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts. His works have been collected and exhibited in Montreal and abroad. The artist is best known for his vibrant expressionistic corpus of landscapes, figures and still lifes. However, parallel to these joyful depictions lies a dark body of work that is an expression of angst and a vestige of his grief.

Yehouda Chaki. Photo: Tanja Dorsey
Credit

Credits and curator

An exhibition organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and curated by Iris Amizlev, Curator of Intercultural Arts, MMFA.

Yehouda Chaki: Mi Makir; A Search for the Missing was made possible thanks to the Bensadoun family, major patron of the exhibition, in collaboration with the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal and the Azrieli Foundation.

The Museum extends its gratitude to Roslyn Margles and the Jonathan and Susan Wener family, as well as to exhibition ambassadors, the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Family Foundation, the Saryl and Stephen Gross Family Foundation, Riva and Thomas O. Hecht, Sari Hornstein, Amy Weinberg and Norbert Hornstein, Joel A. and Rhoda Pinsky, Julia and Stephen F. Reitman, Irwin and Sara Tauben and Viscofan Canada.

The Museum recognizes the essential contribution of its official sponsor, Denalt Paints. It thanks the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications for its support, as well as the Conseil des arts de Montréal and the Canada Council for the Arts for their ongoing support.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts logo

Major Patron

The Bensadoun Family

In collaboration with

The Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal
Fondation Azrieli

Official Sponsor

Denalt

Public partners

Conseil des arts de Montréal
Canada Council for the Arts
Gouvernement du Québec
Yehouda Chaki (born in 1938), Mi Makir, acrylic, India ink and latex. Courtesy of the artist.

Yehouda Chaki (born in 1938), Mi Makir, acrylic, India ink and latex. Courtesy of the artist.

Yehouda Chaki (born in 1938), Express Train from Salonika to Auschwitz, 1969, oil on canevas. Collection of the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University. Inv. 969.29. Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay

Yehouda Chaki (born in 1938), Express Train from Salonika to Auschwitz, 1969, oil on canevas. Collection of the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University. Inv. 969.29. Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay

Yehouda Chaki. Photo: Tanja Dorsey

Yehouda Chaki. Photo: Tanja Dorsey

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