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site.btaInternational Artist Rivka Uziel Opens Exhibition in Native Yambol

International Artist Rivka Uziel Opens Exhibition in Native Yambol
International Artist Rivka Uziel Opens Exhibition in Native Yambol
Rivka Uziel at the opening of her exhibition in Yambol, April 17, 2024 (BTA Photo)

"It doesn't matter where a person goes. Where he was born, that's where his heart is!", artist Rivka Uziel told BTA on Wednesday at the opening of her solo exhibition in her native town of Yambol. 

Titled The Colours of My Childhood, the exhibition is Uziel's second in Yambol. It is on at the George Papazov Art Gallery and can be viewed until May 20.

There are more than 40 canvases arranged in the exhibition, captivating the audience with colours and extravagance, said Petar Tepsizov, who chairs the Yambol union of artists.

Uziel's story is one of thousands of rescued Bulgarian Jews during World War II. She was born in 1938 in Yambol. After the antisemitic National Defense Act came into force in 1941, her father was taken to a labor camp, she told BTA. She and her mother were evicted and sent to live in Kardzhali and then Pomorie. Although only five or six years old at the time, Uziel still clearly remembers the events. “A cousin of my father hid us and four other families for a while in his house. Afterwards they put us in a wagon. I don't remember how many days we traveled. I was sick, crying all the time. We arrived in Kardzhali, where I have terrible memories - people without legs, without arms, heads covered in blood," she recalled. They left for Pomorie, first she and her mother, and later her father, who was released from the camp. They were hosted by a Bulgarian family, while her father started working in a pharmacy. "My father was both a master pharmacist and a violinist. He graduated from Strasbourg, knew French and German perfectly. They needed someone like that," she noted.

After the end of World War II, the family returned to Yambol in 1945. Her brother was born there in 1946, and in 1949 they all left for Israel. There they initially lived in shacks in a refugee camp, but after many difficulties, they settled down and her father started work in the philharmonic, said Uziel. She first started work as a high school teacher of literature and religion. She graduated from the Faculty of Humanities at the Tel Aviv University and the Academic College Levinsky-Wingate. However, from a young age she has had an affinity for art, and after 37 years as a teacher, she decided to change her career path. "I always drew, but my father used to say: you can't eat from drawing", Uziel recalled. "When I went to the first year at the art academy, he said to me that there is no half way in art and that I had to graduate. I already had four children at that time," she said.

Following her dream, she graduated from the Kalisher Higher School of Art in Tel Aviv and finished her studies in Art History at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. At the age of 55, she left for Africa, where she lived for six years. Since 1996 she has been teaching on a voluntary basis at the Faculty of Arts at Makerere University in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. As the curator of the university gallery there, she has been gathering artists in the exhibition called Different but One for 28 years. "The people there await the exhibition like Christmas. As soon as I get off at the airport, they start asking me when the exhibition will be," Uziel said.

Talking about the war in the Gaza strip, she said that her three grandchildren are soldiers in the war. "It's terrible. I went through this once with my husband who was in the military. And now it is happening again. It's really hard. The scariest thing is in the morning - to turn on the radio and to hear the names of those who were killed", she said, adding that she wishes for peace and for people to love each other. "We can love, we can be together, even when we don't have the same religion and when we are not the same people," she said.

Even though life has taken her in many directions over the years - Europe, America, Africa - Uziel continues to keep fond memories of Yambol. She is the proud mother of four children and 13 grandchildren, and is expecting a great-grandchild very soon. 

/NF/

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By 02:48 on 30.05.2024 Today`s news

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