Yesterday, Sunday, internationally-acclaimed artist David Roytman unveiled his brand-new gallery in Soho, Manhattan. Roytman has made world headlines for his original technique of abstract art which he created by firing pistols, rifles, and even tanks and jets(!) to blast small bags of paint onto canvas and create compelling designs. His artwork, which he has entitled ‘Make Art Not War,’ expresses an artist’s experiences in the military.
A native of Odessa, Roytman moved to Israel in his adolescence and served in the Israel Defense Forces during Operation Defensive Shield where he was exposed to the horrors of war, death and hatred. “Not a day passes that I don’t reflect upon the dark events that took place in the refugee camp in Jenin. It’s been twenty years already, but I remember it like yesterday.”
After the war ended, Roytman returned home a different man—a man plagued by PTSD, but it was his passion for art that helped him heal. In time, he developed an innovative technique of abstract art using assault weapons to blast small bags of paint onto canvas and form striking designs that tell a story of pain and healing, anger and love, war and peace.
Now, several years later, Roytman celebrated the grand-opening of his art gallery in New York. The ribbon-cutting event was attended by public dignitaries, among them NYC Mayor Eric Adams, Israeli Consul in NY Asaf Zamir, and American rabbi and president of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding Rabbi Mark Schneier, among others. In the course of the event, Roytman shared his heart-stopping life story which began as a poverty-stricken orphan in Ukraine and led him to fame and fortune as an artist, philanthropist and preeminent brand-name designer of luxury Judaica which earned him the moniker the “Jewish Louis Vuitton.”
Mayor Adams expressed: “At this significant time with the war in Ukraine, people are experiencing so much emotion, so much PTSD from the violence… Your religious art gives people hope…and celebrates our diversity.”
Rabbi Mark Schneier, former Vice President of the World Jewish Congress, was honored with performing the Jewish ritual of affixing a mezuzah to the doorpost. He noted that the Jewish-Ashkenazic custom of affixing the mezuzah at an angle is a symbol of compromise.
“David has taken actual weapons and uniquely converted them into symbols of peace. And what’s peace of all about? It’s about compromise. The parchment inside the mezuzah is about loving God and also about loving our fellow human being, loving strangers. Here, we have people from all walks of life, celebrating not only our common faith, but also our common fate, and this is very significant.”
David’s artwork has garnered international recognition and been reviewed on media stations around the world. His unusual means of expressing feelings through gunfire has spawned much discussion on the use of weapons—the symbol of aggression and harbinger of death and destruction—as a means of promoting art, creativity and peace.