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Massimiliano Pironti (b. 1981)

Arek Hersh (b. 1928) 2021

RCIN 408756

Arek was just ten years old at the outbreak of the Second World War. By the time he was liberated by the Soviet army from the ghetto at Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia on 8 May 1945, he had endured suffering and brutality of unimaginable magnitude. 

On account of the Covid-19 pandemic, the artist Massimiliano Pironti, living in Germany, was reliant on virtual sittings until it became possible to travel again to finish the portrait. Painting on an aluminium surface allowed him to render his subject in a hyper-realistic manner – although Arek sits still and completely at ease, there is a sense that he might suddenly spring to life. Massimiliano has included in the background a photograph of Arek taken shortly after his arrival in England in August 1945 – a young man standing alone, solitary but strong. Eighty-one members of Arek’s close and extended family perished during the Second World War.