By that time I did not know anything about her because I was just out of the Art Institute and Lelia, with her exemplary
modesty, would not tell me about the impressive career she had in Romania. I felt we have much in common, we stayed
in touch and we started to visit each other more often, together with our husbands. We used to go together at the Haifa
beach, enjoying the Mediterranean colors, sun and sand. She used to say that we were lucky with our artistic acuity to
observe and enjoy the finest details of the world. She admired the beauty of the girls with sexy beachwear and said, with
a maternal feeling, "no matter how expensive these outfits are, the mothers have to buy them."
During the four years I lived in Haifa, she only told me that she had received just one command for a sculpture she
placed at Kiriat Bialik in front of City Hall. She was disappointed, but she kept producing works for gallery exhibitions,
while her wonderful expertise was passed on to the amateur art students she taught at the cultural centers. She kindly
took care of my students also, when I was away for two months in my first voyage to America.
After my emigration to Canada, we used to exchange at length, by letters and e-mails about everything in our lives.
The emergence of the Internet allowed me to discover in its entirety the art of Lelia Zuaf. The references and the art
collections where her works were kept came to light. Being ashamed of my ignorance, I began to search and to bring
together everything I found. I tried to convince Lelia that her work deserves a structured world exposure. She was
skeptical in the beginning because she found out that some fake “art historians” rushed to label her art as “socialist
realism”. I tried hard to persuade her that not anyone that writes on art is worth to be taken seriously. Finally, she
agreed to gather and reveal everything she kept hidden in her archives and she became my most valuable collaborator.
It was an incredible mobilization of her, at the age of 88.
She wanted me to do some critical reflections on her work, but, as an artist myself, I don’t think an art oeuvre has to be
translated or explained. It has its own way to communicate, differently from one viewer to another, and this language
must be unique to the viewer.
Together, we succeeded to build this retrospective website that had the online vernissage on 11.11.2011, via Skype.
Who can forget such a date?
Doina T. Anghel
|I met Lelia Zuaf in March 1977, in a memorable biblical place that was very exotic to both of us - the Sinai Peninsula.
We were there as engineers’ wives in a trip organised by the Israel Electric Corporation.
The first time I spotted her was in the tourist bus traveling through those special places and coming back from the Eilat’
s amazing submerged aquarium , when a lady exclaimed that she would like to stay there forever. By approaching her
and not knowing anything about each other, we discovered that we graduated from the same Art Institute, one
generation apart. We both had immigrated to Israel from our native Romania.
|A photograph I have from that trip, at
Solomon's Pillars, shows her in the
background, at her husband's arm.
When we left those wonderful places, on
March 5th, we heard on the bus radio that
Bucharest, which had been our youth town left
behind, had been hit by a huge catastrophe - a
devastating earthquake. We shared together
the sadness and, at the same time, the relief
that we were lucky not to be there anymore.