Avigdor Renzo Luisada - Biography


He also returned to illustrating children’s books, and drew images for magic lanterns (image projectors). During these years, he drew very little because of a lack of physical and emotional time as well as a lack of money.

After the war ended, connection with Italy was renewed, and he went with his wife many times to visit their family members that were left. Luisada renewed his connections with Italian painters and visited the big Italian museums.

The desire to paint again, and his longing for connection with other artists, led to the couple’s decision in 1947 to move to Tel Aviv, where a new chapter began in their lives. Luisada started teaching painting and art history at the Art Teachers Seminar, the Ort school, as well as teaching adult classes. In addition he lectured on art history in museums and other places around the country. That year, he opened his first solo exhibition at the Katz Gallery in Tel Aviv.

The move to Tel Aviv opened new social opportunities for Luisada.  He joined groups with other artists and started visiting exhibitions and galleries. His close friendships with different artists would continue for many years.

In 1948, he heard about an opportunity to present an Israeli group exhibition at the Venice Biennale. He informed Joseph (Yossef) Zaritsky, who selected several artists to exhibit there. Israel had just been established, and it was very exciting to display the Israeli flag at the show’s entrance. The fact that the selection of artists was not made according to the Israeli Union of Painters & Sculptors 
protocols created a split between the union members and resulted in the establishment of the Ofakim Hadashim ("New Horizons") movement, which symbolized the beginning of the modern era in Israeli art. Luisada was active in this movement for the rest of his life, and participated in all their group exhibitions.

In 1955, he moved with his family to Ramat Gan, where the families of his younger sister and Paula’s sister lived. They reconnected with Italian families in the neighborhood with which they had a common language. After a few years he rented a studio nearby where he spent many hours painting. These were better conditions for him, compared to the many years he had painted in one of the rooms in their apartment.

The family was growing; his daughters married, and grandchildren were born. The family connection was important for Luisada and allowed him to express his special love for children. He began reading stories along with making little drawings, performing plays in a puppet theater, and playing children’s games.

Luisada enjoyed drawing portraits and black and white drawings. He especially loved to draw for different occasions (such as small drawings that characterized each one of the family members to mark their seats at the Passover dinner table).

In 1962, he had fulfilled an old dream and lived with his wife in Paris for a year. There, he formed connections with local artists and had an exhibition at the Espace Gallery.

Luisada was a modest man, kind-hearted, introverted and very sensitive. His deep connection to the Italian culture was central to him throughout his life. His rich internal world and his vast knowledge were expressed in his lectures.  In the pictures he showed and his descriptions, he was able to transfer his experiences to his listeners with a lifelike quality.

Throughout his life, his Italian and Israeli identities were intertwined. Luisada was content with his choice to immigrate to Israel and take part in the nation’s building. While he spoke Italian at home, he was aware and took part in Israel events, read Israeli newspapers and thought of himself an Israeli.

In 1972, Luisada suffered a serious heart attack and after that his health started deteriorating. After he recovered slightly, he did not give up but made his way by dragging his legs to his studio to continue painting as long as he could.

In 1987, he passed away at the age of 82. 

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Avigdor Renzo Luisada was born in Florence, Italy on October 27, 1905, the third son of a secular wealthy Jewish family embedded in Italian society. His father was a prominent and well-respected doctor. His older brother followed in his father’s footsteps and became a successful cardiologist in the USA.

Luisada’s talent for drawing was discovered early on by his grandfather, who was a painter, musician and talented photographer. As a child he liked to spend the summer vacations at his grandparents’ home outside the city. When he was seven years old, his grandfather gave him his first drawing lesson but warned him:” Don’t be a painter! This is a hard life…”

After he completed his high school studies, he served in the Alpinist unit of the Italian army. Upon his discharge he sought to start art studies but his father insisted that he study engineering instead. Luisada began to study engineering at the university but very quickly understood that the field was simply not for him. He transferred to the Academy of Fine Arts of Florence, but consequently experienced a serious detachment from his father, who refused to support him during his studies. There was almost no connection between them. During this period, Luisada went through an emotional and spiritual crisis and he began to read and look for existential answers.  He was exposed to the Zionist ideas that had then started to appear for the first time in Italy.

In 1929 he moved to Rome, where he continued to study art at the Academia di San Luca. After two years, he received an award from the academy for his achievement in drawing.

Later on he went back to Florence and supported himself by illustrating children’s books. In these years, he became active in the young Zionists groups in Italy. There he met his future wife, Paula Malvano. They married in 1933 and moved to Milan, where he hoped to make a better income. He continued to illustrate children’s books to make a living, and painted in oil for pleasure. That year, his father passed away. After Paula visited Palestine in 1932, the couple started to plan for their future immigration (Aliyah) to the Holy Land.

In his time in Milan, Luisada started to participate in group exhibitions and in 1936 he was invited to present in the Venice Biennale.

With the Nazi rise to power in Germany, a stream of Jewish refugees began to arrive in Northern Italy. The number was growing, and the Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel in Italy provided them with shelter, food and visas to different countries. A new Delegation for the Assistance of Jewish Emigrants (“Delasem”) was founded for these purposes. Luisada joined the delegation and traveled to big cities in Italy, as well as to Paris and Brussels in order to raise money. The organization’s activities were clandestine, illegal and very stressful. Later on, he was elected to be the organization’s secretary, as well as the president of the Milan chapter. Luisada and his wife still wanted to immigrate to Israel but decided to extend their stay in Italy due to his activities in the organization. During these years, their two daughters Daphna and Dina were born.

With the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, the head of “Delasem” asked Luisada to leave Italy immediately before it was too late. He and his family made Aliyah to Israel on September 1939 in the last boat that left for Israel from the port of Trieste.

In Israel, together with other Italian families and with the encouragement of Enzo Sereni, the Zionist leader admired by the Italian Jews, they decided to found a small communal village (“moshav”).  In 1940, they established the village Tel-Dan  (commemorating Dante Lattes, a respected Italian Zionist activist) near Ramat Hadar in the Sharon region.

In addition to the difficulties of getting used to the new country, they struggled with a lack of experience in agriculture, which resulted in tough conditions for the family. In addition, they lived in constant worry about the fate of their families that had stayed in Italy during the war. After a few years, they decided to dismantle their farm, and Luisada started teaching painting in regional elementary schools. 


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