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 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 as New York, Paris, Tel Aviv, Caracas and Tokyo, in all of which he has had one-man shows.
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!