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Fima (Reuytenberg), Efraim

FIMA (Reuytenberg), EFRAIM

FIMA (Reuytenberg), EFRAIM (1916– ), painter. Fima was born into a Russian Jewish family in Harbin, China. His father, Alexander, had left Russia in 1904 with his wife, Sofia Fishman. In 1934 Fima moved to Shanghai, where he started to learn painting in izo, a Russian Academy of Art. He also began to study Chinese calligraphy and became passionately interested in Chinese philosophy. Fima immigrated to Israel in 1949. The revelation of the other side of the world and the exposure to Israel induced a period of doubt. Fima destroyed most of the canvases he had created up to that point. As withimmigrants, he experienced difficulties. His working conditions were poor and he painted during the night. He married twice and in both cases the marriage ended in divorce. In 1958, after some one-man exhibitions in Israel, he began to sign his name Fima, shortening his Russian first name Yafim. In 1961 Fima and his wife Rama settled in Paris, coming to visit in Israel from time to time. After Rama's death he married Kaarina Jokinen in 1967. He had many exhibitions in Israel and in the United States and he taught at Haifa University. He lived and worked in Jerusalem and Paris.

The typical style of Fima was Abstraction. His paintings recall Abstract Expressionism and the Geometric Abstract but a closer examination of his works reveals that Fima is not interested in intellectual analysis. His outlines are not sharply defined, but are rather soft, misty, hazy and fluid. It seems to have been influenced by Chinese Taoism (Red Calligraphy, 1962, Israel Museum, Jerusalem).

When Fima focused on an object, whether it was a portrait, a flower, or beards, he described it in a general way with a background of one color. Nonetheless, the objects are vivid and appear in characteristic attitudes (Self Portrait, 1980, private collection).

The international influence on Fima's painting overshadows his Israeli Identity. Fima pointed out that only when he traveled on the canvas did he feel at home.


Haifa, Mané-Katz Museum, Fima – Shanghai Jerusalem Paris Jerusalem Works on Paper 1930–1990 (1998); Tel Aviv, Bineth Gallery, Fima (1990).

[Ronit Steinberg (2nd ed.)]

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