|Israeli artist, Lyric Realism school|
|Trained as an artist in Bulgaria. His work is considered part of the Fantastic Realism school of art.|
Nahum Gilboa was an Israeli artist in the Lyrical Realism tradition and his work is much admired. He was born in Sofia in 1917 and died in Israel in 1976.
Nahum Gilboa was born to Jewish parents in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1917, and his father was one of the first Jewish journalists in Bulgaria. Bulgarian Jews were mostly Sephardi and spoke Ladino rather than Yiddish. Although Jews were less than 1% of Bulgaria's population, they had full civil rights. As there were no bars to higher education for Jews, Nahum Gilboa went to study art at The Royal Academy of Art in Sofia, the oldest art school in the country. The school had been founded by the sculptor Boris Schatz, who afterwards went on to found the Bezalel School of Art in Jerusalem. Gilboa also studied at the Jewish Teacher’s College where he qualified as a teacher, specializing in art.
The Zionist movement was very strong in Bulgaria and gave people support to leave the country to go to British controlled Mandated Palestine (pre-state Israel). Nahum Gilboa and his wife managed to leave Bulgaria on one the illegal immigration ships (Aliyah Bet) to Eretz Yisrael at the start of the Second World War. Even though they were captured by the British, they eventually were able to join one of several kibbutzim they lived on before the founding of the state. In 1952-3, a few years after Independence, Gilboa went to Paris to study art at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. He also traveled to Italy to see classical Italian painting for himself. On his return to Israel, Nahum Gilboa joined the Association of Painters and Sculptors of Israel and was an active participant all his life.
At the beginning of his artistic career Gilboa painted traditional landscapes, both urban and pastoral as well as portraits and still lifes. Nahum Gilboa soon moved into the world of Lyric Realism otherwise known as Fantastic Realism. This is where the paintings appear to be realistic and then as the viewer looks closer there are many lyrical or fantastic elements, often of a spiritual or religious nature, which give a whole different experience of the painting. Part of Nahum Gilboa’s technique was to take photographs of scenes he wanted to paint, or make sketches from memory of the past and then create something totally new from his imagination. He also guided and taught other artists including Rina Sutzkever, a Russian artist, who also paints in the Lyric Realism tradition. Nahum Gilboa painted many views of Jerusalem and other Jewish subjects, although Gilboa cannot really be counted as a traditional Judaica artist.
Gilboa painted in both gouache and oils as well as creating lithographs and serigraphs of his works. In his life Nahum Gilboa exhibited widely throughout Europe, Israel, South Africa and the United States. A book of his work entitled ‘Nachum Gilboa’ was published in 1976, the year he died. Nachum Gilboa’s work is in demand and available both online and through auction.