Holocaust art of Aba Bayefsky

CWM 19710261-1395

Belsen Concentration Camp - the Pit, watercolour and charcoal on paper, CWM 10846

These paintings and drawings are works by Jewish artist Aba Bayefsky. They are based on his personal experiences of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in May 1945. As he commented in an interview, "For the first time I became aware of man's monstrous capacity for evil." The images from this time have never left him, nor has his anger at what was suffered by the victims of the Holocaust.

CWM 19710261-1392

Belsen Concentration Camp - Malnutrition No. 2, charcoal on paper, CWM 10843

Aba Bayefsky was born in Toronto in 1923 and as a teenager was encouraged to paint by Group of Seven artist Arthur Lismer. He subsequently studied art at Toronto's Central Technical School. In 1942 he joined the RCAF and was appointed an official war artist in 1944, assigned to depict airborne operations over north-west Europe. The nearly 50 works completed on this assignment form part of the art collection of the Canadian War Museum.

CWM 19710261-1397

Belsen - Typhus, charcoal on paper, CWM 10848

A Member of the Order of Canada, Bayefsky was a former president of the Canadian Group of Painters and the Canadian Society of Graphic Art. He was an associate member of the Royal Canadian Academy. He lived and worked in Toronto. He died in 2001.

CWM 19970112-001

Remembering the Holocaust, oil on canvas, CWM 19970112-001

His personal reflections on what he saw half a lifetime ago were the inspiration for a series of works collectively entitled Epilogue, completed between 1988 and 1994. This series consists of 22 drawings, 17 watercolours, and 2 conté drawings which reflect on the nature of the Holocaust.