One of Hadar Goldin’s paintings is a beautiful nightscape, an early gift to the new girlfriend who eventually became his fiancée. Another combines elements of Johannes Vermeer and Roy Lichtenstein; it was completed as a school project during a family sabbatical year in England. There are other paintings. And then there are the comics, many of them drawn while the young artist was serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Together, these works compose an exhibition, “Hadar Goldin: Art, Inspiration, Hope,” which opened last evening at the Kings Bay YM-YWHA in Brooklyn.
Goldin, then a 23-year-old lieutenant, was kidnapped and killed in Gaza by Hamas terrorists in August 2014, just two hours after a cease-fire was declared in Operation Protective Edge hostilities. Three years later, Hamas has not returned his body. The exhibition thus not only celebrates Hadar’s life and artistic talents; it is also intended to raise awareness of his story and to compel international action to bring him—and Oron Shaul, another soldier killed in Gaza that summer whose body Hamas has not released—home to their families in Israel.
With that goal, Goldin’s parents, Leah and Simcha Goldin, attended the Brooklyn event. They were introduced by Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul general in New York. While stressing Israel’s “supreme responsibility” to bring back its soldiers, Dayan declared that the United Nations and the United States, as brokers and guarantors of the cease-fire, “cannot evade” their own obligations to facilitate that outcome.
For much of the evening, Hadar’s parents mingled with visitors among the artworks, sharing anecdotes about individual pieces and recalling their son’s boundless creativity. “Hadar painted all his life,” his mother said; his last creation was intended to adorn his wedding invitation. Undeniably, the parents’ presence deepened the evening’s emotional impact.
But vitality emanates from the exhibition itself. Noting Goldin’s use of light and silhouettes in several paintings, one onlooker, Sapir Tsaiov, was moved to invoke the language of “halos” and “auras.” The words seem apt. Until his family can provide the “decent burial in Israel” that his mother called for, however, too much darkness remains.
“Hadar Goldin: Art, Inspiration, Hope” can be viewed until October 3 at the Kings Bay YM-YWHA, 3495 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, New York (Mondays-Thursdays, 7AM-10PM; Fridays 7AM-6PM; Sundays 7:30AM-8PM). For more information about Hadar Goldin, see also the website of the Hadar Goldin Foundation.
Erika Dreifus is a writer and editor in New York and the author of Quiet Americans: Stories. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter, where she tweets on “matters bookish and/or Jewish.”