Theo Tobiasse, born Tobias Eidesas on April 26, 1927 in Jaffa then in Mandatory Palestine and died November 3, 2012 in Cagnes-sur-Mer in France, he is a French painter, engraver, draftsman and sculptor.
Theo Tobiasse was born in Palestine in 1927, where his Jewish parents lived since 1925, far from the threat of pogroms and political upheavals in Eastern Europe. The family encounters material difficulties and decide to return to Lithuania, but finally they leave for Paris in 1931 where his father typographer finds work in a Russian printing shop.
Theo Tobiasse shows early talent for drawing and painting, and during a visit to the Special Exhibition of 1937 held in Paris, he is amazed by La Fée Électricité by Raoul Dufy.
Theo felt like a fish out of water. He didn’t quite fit in. His mother dies in 1939 and war breaks out. 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 Theo 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 Theo moved to Nice where he continued to paint. He had his first exhibition at the Palais de la Méditerranée in 1961 where he also won the grand prize. This helped him to make the decision to quit gradually his other career and devote his time entirely to art.
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 travelled 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.
He dies in 2012 in the South of France.
Sources: Archives Gallery YLA and translations by Y. Ysebaert, Wikipedia … etc.