Tova Berlinski

to renowned artist Tova Berlinski in her apartment in Jerusalem’s tree-lined
German Colony, is a gift, because the artist tells you first hand both through
her artwork and discussion about a personal history filled with achievement
and loss.

Her varied and interesting past is
not only remembered but comes alive through her painting. The burden of keeping
ones’ family legacy alive, one that was wiped out in the Holocaust, while
living in Jerusalem, a city that is the center of the world for so many people,
in culture, religion and anguish, is a tall order. For artist Tova Berlinski,
it is a mandate.

“Creativity is a constant struggle.
As it transcends, it moves me through my fears. The new, stark white canvas
always scares me, but I do my best,” says Berlinski. Everything that I put
into my paintings, all of the work and emotion are returned to me when I
look at my work.”

“Recently I began to paint portraits,
but even when I painted in my abstract periods there were portraits hidden
in my work. I painted without faces. All of my abstract work has figures
and tells stories. My paintings are my biography.”

Berlinski, one of six children. was
the daughter of “Hasidic, yet Bohemian type, parents”. She recalls that both
her parents had beautiful voices. “My mother decorated gothic letters, while
my sister was the family artist. I always thought that I’d go into theater,”
recalls Berlinski.

Born in Oswiecim (Auschwitz), the
extended family enjoyed a nice life and excellent relations with their Polish
Christian neighbors, recalls Berlinski. Although her father had a large furniture
store, he did not have a head for business. From 1933-36 Berlinski lived with
her uncle and his family in Paris because her family could not support her
education. Unhappy in Paris, she returned to live with her family who were
then living in Cracow, Poland. From there she moved with her family to Sosnovicz
where the economy was bad, and

there was strong anti-semitism.


met her future husband, Elec, in the Betar Youth Movement in Sosnovicz, and
together the couple moved to pre-State Israel in 1938. Following her dream
to be an actress, she studied at Tel Aviv’s Habima Theater, under the stage
name of Miriam Bernstein-Cohen. She then moved to the Cameri Theater, where
Berlinski came to the realization that one needed to be extremely competitive
to succeed in theater, and that she was too sensitive. At the same time,
she began painting.

Tova Berlinski’s paintings tell her
life story. They serve to illustrate for both the painter and the viewer
the images and personalities of her childhood. The complicated emotions of
seeing family members in both a subjective and objective manner come into
play with Berlinski’s images.

The memories of her complex relationships
with both her parents and her siblings are expressed in the portraits she
paints. The viewer is given the rare opportunity to meet and become acquainted
with a part of a family that lived in a world that was destroyed in the Holocaust.

“The twelve years that we lived in
Tel Aviv were difficult. In 1953 when we moved to Jerusalem, I immediately
signed up for classes at Bezalel. There I learned to draw in black and white
from the best teacher that I ever had, Shlomo Vitkin. I worked all day and
I drew all night.”

In the late 1950s, Paris was the height
of the art world and the Berlinskis moved to Paris for two years so that
Berlinski could study at the academy and be immersed in art. Later, in 1961,
she joined the Artists’ League, while on sabbatical with her husband in Cambridge,

Berlinski has the gift of being warm
and personable with everyone she meets. She also knows how to share another
person’s success. While clearly a gifted painter one has no doubt that she
could have been a stage legend as well. “Today, I still love music. I enjoy
listening to classical, Joan Baez, ‘good jazz’, and some French vocalists.”
Berlinski’s warm and down to earth personality put one at ease, even when
discussing difficult subjects. She is able to open up and engage both the
interviewer and the viewer in a world that is intimately her own, but also
welcomes others. The paintings serve as an extension of the artist and her
world. The art is both engaging and tells an important part of Jewish history
over the last 100 years.

She is the recipient of the 1963 Jerusalem
Prize and the 2000 Mordekhai Ish-Shalom prize for her life’s work and her
unique contribution to art.

Paintings are for sale by the artist.
Oils begin at $2,500 and watercolors start at $800.

Single Artist Shows (partial list)

  • 2002 *Artists
    House, Jerusalem
  • 1996 *Art Space,
  • 1995 *Herzliya
    Museum of Art; Israel Museum, Jerusalem
  • 1992 *Artists
    House, Jerusalem
  • 1988 *Sarah Levy
    Gallery, Tel Aviv
  • 1987 *Mishkenot
    Shaananim Gallery, Jerusalem
  • 1986 *Sarah Levy
    Gallery, Tel Aviv
  • 1985 *A. Hushi
    House, Haifa
  • 1982 *Ella Gallery,
    Jerusalem; Radius Gallery, Tel Aviv
  • 1980 *Mabat Gallery,
    Tel Aviv
  • 1979 *Mabat Gallery,
    Tel Aviv
  • 1976 *Debel Gallery,
    Jerusalem; Mabat Gallery, Tel Aviv
  • 1975 *Debel Gallery,
  • 1973 *Grafica
    Gallery 3, Haifa; Ori Gallery, London
  • 1972 *Small Gallery,
    Jerusalem; Mabat Gallery, Tel Aviv
  • 1970 *Haifa Museum
    of New Art, Haifa
  • 1965 *Galerie
    de l’Universite, Paris; De Drai Hendriken, Amsterdam
  • 1963 *Artists
    House, Jerusalem; Rina Gallery, Jerusalem
  • 1962 *Jewish Community
    Center, Boston
  • 1961 *Jewish Community
    Center, San Diego
  • Plus 15 group

  • info

    Visits by appointment only.

    E-mail for further information.

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