"Those who love my girls and boys, who adopt and carry them almost throughout the whole world, have been asking me for these lines for long a time. It took me many years to make up my mind, since I do not believe to be a famous personage and would not impose the reading of my memories upon anyone. But I often think of you, my dear ladies, with whom I have been acquainted one day in a gallery, from where you departed, each of you, with one of my paintings under your arm, going, one to South Africa, the other to Peru.
When looking at my stamp album at an age, which is today that of my favorite models, I should never have believed that, one day, a strong tie would unite me to persons, living in those miraculous lands.
I owe also an answer to you, sir, who were so very grieved by the loss of your pictures, destroyed by fire in your home in Canada, and to you, dear Sir, who underwent an incredible experience with the policemen of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, because you tore off one of my posters at three o’clock in the morning. You took tremendous trouble to explain to them, that doing it after the last day of the exhibition, you did no harm to anyone.
I know that your curiosity for the personality of the painter and his models derives from the fact that the interest of my paintings does not solely lie in their pectoral and plastic qualities.
I give to the world the image rather disconcerting to the author of my paintings of a dynamic young man, smiling and happy. Indeed I do not feel responsible, neither for what I am, nor for what I do.
I was born in Budapest, under the sign of the Ram, and that animal is endowed by nature as everyone knows with a motor easy to race, with brakes of little efficiency, and with horns, which help less to assail than to protect his skull, when rushing headlong.
I was born a dreamer, to an extraordinary extent. As for my paintings, they are the work of the lonely, a little savage, shy and dreaming boy, who I have been and who has succeeded to be alive in me. And it is he that paints with my hands of a man, that world of children and teenagers, which I love so much, and from which I was chased by time, quite long ago, but to which I remain secretly tied, in the middle of this indefinable ((No Man’s Land), where I am living. For, one must be from somewhere, now, I have never really succeeded to adjust my self to, and to incorporate in the world of the grownups. Actually, I am as much the creature, as the creator of my paintings; without them, I should not be the man I am.
My mother desired to make a doctor of me, but I feared as much the diseases of others, as the mine ones. In every case, I always known, that one day I should be a painter. I would draw; this was the only point, where my talents and my tastes went together. In order to become a painter, I had to go to Paris, I bought me a French dictionary, at the nearest shop. I was ten years old.
At twenty two, I landed in Paris. Expelled from 11 schools, I have been an unsuccessful apprentice here and there, as office clerk, but attending in the same time evening courses at the Academy of Fine Arts. Friends were waiting for me at the Gare de i’Est; I made a rush down the stairs, and the first Parisian landscape I saw, was the view from the terrace of the Danton Coffee house.
In Paris, when in hiding before the Gestapo, I had false identity papers, which I forged myself, Santiago de Chile as my birth place. For, my faithfulness to my dreams did always help me lo live and sometimes even to be happy.
My greatest memory and to some extend my inspiration for my latter paintings were derived from a single encounter.
And the girl.... The girl, whose absent-minded look met mine, one day, at a street corner. I did not have even a single chance in a thousand to see her again, not even a single
chance in a million, to know her, not even a single chance to the number of the stars to please her but, even so... one day she will come to life in my art."
Etienne Roth, 1965
Le jury de l’exposition de la Palette Frangaise
Rouen, 1961, un Diplôme d’Honneur
Biography courtesy of S Cohen Fine Art. © S. Cohen Fine Art
(The above three paintings are available for sale from Collosseum Fine Arts)
The left two images directly above are courtesy of a fan page devoted to the Donald Art Company
which sold prints of
Roth's work as well as that of some other Big Eye artists. The site is certainly worth a visit.
Few artists are so single-minded in their subject matter. At least with Etienne Roth, we know where his inspiration got its origin. The more romantic among us have occasionally
been enchanted with someone we've glimpsed only for a brief moment; Roth turned it into an artistic obsession.
Note: As more images are discovered or donated, I will continue updating this page.