New Brunswick Artists: Herzl Kashetsky

After spending an afternoon at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, I knew I had to add Herzl Kashetsky to my list of New Brunswick artists.  My parents have a couple of his works and I have always loved them. The first is a cityscape and the second is a sketch of his family that my parents got years ago for a song.  I love the detail of them, the fact that the hand of the artist is so visible in the final work.

Much of his work is done is a magical realism style - an art movement within which everyday objects are depicted in an 'accurate' and intensely detailed way, which gives the objects new meaning and significance (so nothing to do with demon and warlocks...).  Kashetsky himself wrote: "It is not the quality of realism one should look for in painting; but rather the qualities (of life) which the realism expresses."

His paintings of beach stones are incredible and I think of them every time I see a rocky beach like this.
Give us this day our Daily Bread, 2008. New Brunswick Art Bank.

Self-Portrait with Words, Private Collection.

He also has a fascination with the written word and has done several portraits, self-portraits and even landscapes using his handwriting.  I love the one below - anyone want to loan me $5G?

Words in the Sky, Peter Buckland Gallery.

The amazing Glitter and Gloom exhibition of his sketchbooks at the Beaverbrook just blew me away - it was such an intimate glimpse into his mind and boundless creativity.    As their exhibition description states:

Best known for his meticulous high realist paintings, [Kashetsky] is a voracious visual enquirer for whom drawing has always occupied a central part of his life and practice. A constant and prolific draughtsman, he has filled 119 sketchbooks with 7,036 drawings over a span of forty years. These works, which have never been exhibited in a public forum until now, are not preparations for paintings, and were not produced to meet specific commissions or the demands of the market, but constitute a personal visual diary. Chronicling the age-old theme of the transience of life, they offer various revealing insights into the artist’s inner experience from 1965 to 2010. As a form of raw witness and unmediated expression, the sketchbooks have provided him with a way of seeing and thinking, as well as with a therapeutic process for living in and responding to an uncertain world of both hope and despair, the glitter and gloom of the human condition.

Forgive me crappy iPhone photos (they are publishing a book this Fall which I will definitely be picking up, hopefully it has better quality images!).  I was there for what seemed like eons looking at every little scrap, every note, every little bit.  It brought to mind Da Vinci's many notebooks, and certainly both seem like people who cannot contain their creativity - it spills out in pages and pages of notes.  One of Kashetsky's quotes from the show was "I am like a plant; my drawings, my paintings, are my leaves.  The more leaves I produce, the more complete I am, though I shall never be, complete."

I love the quote above.
I copied this one down too - it says: "You are the white canvas, I paint upon: you take my soul, and breathe meaning into it.  You take the transient moment and give it significance.  You bear my troubles, my doubts, my happiness, pain and love of life."

(It is possible that the reason I was there so long was that I was typing out quotes on my iPhone...)

 Love the rearview mirror sketch...

 And this one too!

And how cool is the image of the pencil drawing his self-portrait?

Herzl Kashetsky doesn't have a website or anything I can point you to - in fact finding information on him was a little tough!  However, he just recently won the 2011 Strathbutler Award for excellence in visual art in New Brunswick, so there are a few good articles to be found, including this one and this one. But if you are near Fredericton between now and September 11, 2011, I urge you to take a look at the show, and keep your eyes peeled for the book.

This post is one of a series I am doing on New Brunswick artists, which so far also includes photographer Freeman Patterson and ceramic artist Darren Emenau of MNO Pottery.


  1. So much to look at and ponder here...
    I love the "white canvas" quote - gave me goosebumps - very romantic, no?
    So many great self portraits, especially the "looking at self in mirror with self standing behind..."
    And the stones - reminds me of Melvin's Beach in St. Martin's - love that beach!
    I'm totally loving the NB artists posts - keep it going!

  2. I just bought my first Herzl Kashetsky it's small but I love it and it's mine,love his work.

  3. Hi, it's interesting to see the pencil study for the painting "From The Family Album" again. I didn't know where it was. The watercolor & painting on canvas are in the collection of the Beaverbrook Gallery.
    Thank you for your interest & response to the sketchbook drawings.
    Regards, Herzl

  4. Wow, thanks for stopping by Herzl! Yes, our family are all big fans of yours, my parents have a few, my aunt at least one, and I am lucky enough to have 'borrowed' a sketch you did of a building on Orange street from my parents, which has a place of pride in the dining room. Your exhibition is Saint john looked great too - I am looking forward to seeing some more this summer. All the best! Lisa

  5. Allo Herzl!
    I'm so glad to have found this on you..your sketches flowing through time...made my day!
    Johanne Jutras-Pendleton

  6. Lisa, I recently acquired a watercolor by Herzl and was wondering if you might know of a resource that might shed some light on when it was done. It is of a ship, the "Irving Forest". Judging by the frame, I would say the early 80's, but it sure would be nice to know.


Thank you so much for your comment - they always make my day!