Theo Tobiasse was born in Israel of Lithuanian parents. Before he turned seven, his family moved to Paris due to financial difficulties. In Paris, he felt like a fish out of water. He didn't quite fit in.
Between the years of 1942 and 1944, the Germans occupied Paris. He and his family were forced to live in solitary confinement with the constant fear of being discovered. The only things that kept Tobiasse sane were his books and his drawings. By the time it was safe to come out of hiding, he had quite a portfolio put together.
He attributes his works to his real-life experiences. He believes that because of these experiences, he has reached a place of perfect contentment and harmony. This is apparent in his works through the use of colors and textures.
In 1950 he moved to Nice where he continued to paint. He had his first exhibition at the Palais de le Mediterranee in 1961 where he also won the grand prize. This helped him to make the decision to quit his other career and devote his time entirely to art.
In 1960, his work was noticed at an exhibition of young artists at the Palais de la Mediterranee in Nice and he won first prize. From then on art galleries and collectors continued to show interest in his work, and by 1962 Theo Tobiasse was finally able to devote himself entirely to painting. In 1970, he moved into his studio on Quai Rauba-Capeu, overlooking the Port of Nice. In 1976 he moved again to St. Paul-de-Vence where he rediscovered both the sky of Jerusalem and that of Florence.
It was in Nice, the city he had adopted on leaving Paris, that his pictorial expression came into its own. Initially profane and close to certain bestiaries, his subjects rapidly evolved towards reminiscences about his childhood: buses that he had caught sight of on his journey to France, boats with wheels on the Nieman in Lithuania, tea kettles, the warmth of the fireside, the trains when he arrived in Paris at dawn, the smokiness of railway stations, etc.
All of these symbols were combined, quite extraordinarily, with Biblical or erotic fantasies and also with the theme of exile which had become his main interest over the previous few years. Often visible in his more recent work, the theme of exile took on a more dramatic dimension when it began to encompass not only past and present exiles, but the fear of exiles still to come. This background subject, currently his main preoccupation, is woven out of women, children, crowds, but also candelabra, which represent the glow of hope.
Since 1980, Theo Tobiasse has traveled a great deal in the United States. On a detour, via Mexico, he discovered the impressive Aztec sites of the Yucatan, whose sculptures and engraved stones left their mark on him for a certain period. Fascinated by New York, he decided to find a place where he could work for several months every year.
Thus, he now divides his time between St. Paul-de-Vence and New York. Many exhibitions and one-man shows have been held throughout the world, providing milestones for his work that is to be found in the catalogues of many International museums. Theo Tobiasse has created monumental works such as the fountain entitled "L'Enfant fou" for the Arenas Business Centre at Nice Airport, and stained-glass windows for various institutions in Strasbourg and Nice. He also designed costumes and stage-set models for Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion". He has filled many sketchbooks, some of which have been published, and created illustrated works for lovers of fine books, plus etchings and engravings. Theo Tobiasse also discovered a passion for ceramics, producing pottery and dishes, as well as a series of small bronze sculptures. Several monographs have been published on Theo Tobiasse's work.
His works have been on exhibition throughout the western world and Japan. Tobiasse has also worked in etching, lithography and many more mediums.
PUBLIC WORKS Tobiasse joined the illustrious list of Twentieth Century artists who have decorated chapels in the South of France: Picasso in Valauris, Matisse in Vence, Jean Cocteau in Villefranche-su-Mer with his glorious decoration of the chapel St-Sauveur in Le Cannet, which includes painted panels, a mosaic, sculptures and stained glass windows.
As part of the celebration of the two-thousandth anniversary of the Jewish community of Strasbourg, France, Tobiasse created stained glass windows and murals for the community center which now bears his name. Brought to Paris from Israel as a child, Tobiasse was educated and did his first drawings before World War II. His Jewish family's survival through the terrifying years spent hidden from the Nazis in a Paris apartment is part of his extraordinary life.
Since 1961 Tobiasse has enjoyed ever- increasing recognition and popularity across the globe, with one-man shows in New York, Paris, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and Caracas to name a few.
EXHIBITIONS AND MUSEUMS (PARTIAL LIST)
Nahan Galleries -New York, Tokyo and New Orleans Biblioteque Nationale - Paris Grand Palaise - Paris Musee de L'athenee - Geneva Hotel de ville, Nancy Galerie Chave - St. Paul Waddington Galleries, London Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles International Art Fair, Basel Salon d'art Francais, Tokyo Petit-Palais, Geneval
Provenance: I purchased this at Nahan Galleries in New Orleans. This is a very exceptional piece.
Unique Collectibles, Antiques and Fine Arts from Around the World
Never the ordinary...unique items chosen over the last 50 years of travel around the world.