Theo Tobiasse

Theo Tobiasse, master of the Paris School, was born in Jaffa, Israel in 1927 of Lithuanian parents. His father, a Zionist who was a printer by profession, had brought the family to Jaffa from Lithuania in 1925. Because of financial difficulties, the family returned to Lithuania when Tobiasse was still very young. However, by 1931 the family had settled in Paris. Tobiasse has never forgotten his first sight of Paris, the City of Light.

During the Nazi occupation of Paris, the Tobiasse family lived hidden for two years in a minuscule apartment in Paris. From July, 1942 through August, 1944, the family never ventured outside, nor would they turn on the lights or burn candles. By the feeble light that filtered through the closed shutters, Theo spent his time reading, drawing, and playing chess with his father. The chessboard pattern seen in many of Theo’s paintings is symbolic of this time in his life. The only indication of time passing was the sound of Nazi boots in the streets and on the staircase of their house – more than once they were very close to being discovered. On August 25, 1944 Paris was liberated, and Theo walked out of the apartment with a large portfolio of drawings into the light of a cloudy day. It’s interesting to note that LeRoy Neiman was with the U.S. Army that liberated Paris that day!

After the war Tobiasse worked for 15 years as a very successful advertising artist, first in Paris and then in Nice. He painted as often as he could during this time, often at night. In 1960 he entered his first art show and won the Grand Prize. Since 1961, Tobiasse has enjoyed incredible success as far afield as New York, Paris, Tel Aviv, Caracas and Tokyo, in all of which he has had one-man shows. Art Expo New York, the world’s largest art trade show, listed Tobiasse as one of the only Museum Quality artists represented when American Fine Art exhibited his works there in 1998.

A sentimental and private individual, Tobiasse puts his innermost feelings into all of his works and his little “secret” into his original paintings: a personal message which he writes in Yiddish and then glues onto the canvas before painting or collageing over it. No one will ever know the message without destroying the painting itself!

Tobiasse’s art is a product of intellect, submerged memories and laborious experimentation with various media. As Chagall and Picasso did before him, Tobiasse looks deeper into his work, seeking to express the inner world of man. Surrealism taught him to be experimental, to juxtapose pictorial elements in order to redefine them. He welcomes the new freedom of the 20th Century where there are no rules. Space can be twisted, altered, folded and rendered by its own reality. His influences are as diverse as the etchings on a teapot carried from Lithuania to the Winged Victory as it is set in the Louvre. He imitates no one, but has sensitively collected imagery which evolves into an art that is truly his. It is the brilliant vision of Theo Tobiasse, expressed in his work, that echoes the vocabulary of modern art

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