Alexander Roubtzoff was evidently an orientalist, but in the best possible way:  that in which his profound respect and humility merged in order to give birth to deeply human works.

Save the Orient’s old traditions from oblivion, those that are really beautiful.” Thus he wrote about his earnest yearning in one of the pages of his journal, an ambition that perspires throughout his plentiful production. Avoiding the traps of the superfluous or the mindless following of the fashion of the time, Roubtzoff works reflect the experience of a man moved by the sheer reality he faced at any given moment. His need for merely witnessing the present never superseded the emotions he felt, and that was his strength as a painter.
Nowadays, the artist benefits from the renewed interest in orientalism that has been contributing for several years now to put on the foreground many great artists who remained in the shadows of others for too long.


"Is there in Tunis an artist more dedicated, more prolific, more constantly bewitched by the desire to paint, than Alexandre Roubtzoff ?
And more disinterested. His constant good mood,
his mysterious smile, his kindness and curtesy
had him conquer the heart of people
from all circles."

Alexandre Fichet, 1937


But isn't there something else we may admire, other than the orientalist part of his work, him who was known as the painter of light and chromatic effects, so acclaimed by critics ?
Indeed, his major, and probably best, pieces of work were made in North Africa, but Paris or even Venice deserve some credit. There are other reasons why we recently rediscovered his art. Art history cannot just content itself with compiling a few famous names, especially when it has to deal with such a rich period as the first half of the 20th century.

"Ninety percent of the artists are forgotten ten minutes after their death."
This cannot be more false if applied to Roubtzoff. Only a few months after his death, his works were displayed at the "Tunis Exhibit" of 1950, and also in 1951 and 1952. That year, an Alexandre Roubtzoff prize is even instated. And in 1951, his friend Pierre Dumas wrote the first book entirely dedicated to the artist. All this is a proof, if one was needed, of his popularity and the mark he left among the other painters in Tunisia. More than just his paintings, it is his touching personality and his human qualities everybody seemed to praise.

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