|Jerusalem Landscape I
a traditional Israeli-style home surrounded by a garden, a world away from
the hustle and bustle, yet actually in the center of Petach Tikva, lives
Sonia Toor, an artist who began painting upon retirement.
Inspired by Jerusalem, the Judean
Hills and the desert, Toor paints scenes that are both realistic and abstract.
Using earth tones, grays and blues, she conveys a sense of depth and understanding
to the region.
“Even as a schoolgirl I was a gifted
painter. I simply never painted outside of school because I really wanted
to work in a hospital. I followed my dream and became the head x-ray technician
at Beilinson hospital, here in Petach Tikva.” explained Toor.
“Concurrent with my retirement, my
daughter who was a painter, moved to New York. I missed her so much, and
at night I began to go upstairs to her studio and tinker with her brushes
and paints. I was surprised when I started to paint. For a long time I didn’t
even know what I was painting, but I did know that I couldn’t stop. I spent
every spare moment in the studio. Each result surprised me.”
“Then I went to Jerusalem and started
painting there. In the Old City I felt as if the stones were eyes and they
were trying to tell me something. Each stone in every building seems to hold
a secret. It tells a story about blood shed and endurance. I was pulled to
“Sonia Toor’s Jerusalem seems at times
to convey its essence; at other times it offers us the sweep of comprehensive
reflection which penetrates the city’s very soul.” [Excerpted from the Sonia
Toor catalog, quoted from Rivka Kaznelson, Gazit art critic, The
World of Art, Tel Aviv, 1982.]
“G-d has given me a star from the
sky,” continues Toor, “Everything simply comes to me via the stones. To be
privileged to age in beauty. I am almost 81 and I am happy and fulfilled.
I paint with joy.
“Sometimes I find myself thinking
about where my paintings hang. I am so pleased that they can be shared with
families around the world, who reap happiness from seeing them in their homes.
I once received a letter from a judge in the U.S., saying how much joy he
and his wife derived from looking at one of my Jerusalem paintings each time
they came home.”
“Unlike a dress, a painting is a
gift forever. Children grow up looking at art, and the paintings become a
part of their lives,” says Toor. “It is a gift that keeps giving. A good painting
evolves together with its viewer and takes on new meaning over time.”
A central figure in the development
of Toor’s artistic talent and technique continues to be Elinore Koenigsfeld,
her teacher for more than 30 years. “Sonia’s poetic streak, romanticism and
great sensitivity [as seen in her paintings], is in direct contrast to her
practical, efficient and down-to-earth personality,” comments Koenigsfeld,
lecturer, and teacher of studio art at Levinsky Teachers’ College in Tel
Born in Telsh, Lithuania, Toor survived
World War II and immigrated to Palestine in 1946.
Toor’s works are currently on exhibit
in the Ha’aretz Museum, at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, and in galleries.
They have also been exhibited in Jerusalem, London, Basle, Mexico and in
the United States.