to my father
As far back as I can remember, my father always had a pencil or a paintbrush in his hands, even when he was still working in publicity. There, beneath his fingers, plans were taking shape for the most beautiful buildings that were going to be built on the Riviera. It was a fairytale time for me, that child, when his studio was full of embossed paper, gilded paper, imitation suede and grass paper … There I found all the papers and coloured crayons in the world! It was in the 50s and he was already drawing on everything - he had a bee in his bonnet about personalizing everything with a dash of fantasy! This is how bicycles, fridges, mopeds, cars and telephones were systematically decorated with daisies, big mythological horses and even enchanted landscapes...
A little later in the 1960s, was the period when he began to pick up and collect old bolts and battered drain covers, some of which we found together, in the streets of Nice. These were all treasures that he brought back to his studio in our house, my horrified mother looking on. “I couldn’t leave on the ground such a lovely slab for engraving”, he would say.
Everything about my father spoke of abundance, joy and the jubilation of painting and working … His studio was full. Full of all the dreams, forgotten things and excitations a man can hold. They seemed to be dropped there like snatches of life. Passion lived here along with the music, colours and the smell of turps. On Thursdays it was my job to wash his brushes, which of course I tried to do just as he asked, turning them in household soap with all my heart. I was seven and this was an honour for me.
The delight he found in the light, sea and immense sky he had discovered on the French Riviera was commensurate to the tragedy of the Shoah he had experienced as a young man, and subsequently put out of his mind for the next 60 years… It was a wound that continued to haunt him, night and day. His family came from Lithuania and he had saved their reminiscences, which he placed on his paintings like tatters of memory.
He drew in the way one writes, and he wrote in the way one draws. Drawing was for him an essential language, the basis for the whole of his work and his real signature. Pure, free, without artifice, its outline almost musical, according to him it was the soul of his creation. “Drawing is the symphony around which the orchestra of colours is established.”
“Drawing is the symphony around which the orchestra of colours settles.”