Tuesday, May 22, 2007

That 'Tobiasse' Thing

(24th October 2004)

Je n'ai pas fini mon rĂªve, je refaisais le monde.

It is a title of a limited edition lithograph that I bought when I was in Paris to see S sometime in 1994. Earlier that day, P and I had gone to the Musee Picasso. Like me, it was his first time there. After all, he lived in Dijon. We had then wandered down the streets nearby looking for Jewish bagels.

We chanced upon a retail gallery on a street corner not far away. The man in charge was busy attending to an elderly American couple. He looked at me and gestured in a kindly way that in time he would get to me.

I found myself staring at a rather large lithograph. It had a fun aspect to it - colourful, cheeky and vibrant. There was a sentence scrawled at the upper half - in French. The man wandered over and asked if I liked it. I said I probably would if I knew what the sentence meant. He translated it for me.

"I have not finished my dream, I am rebuilding the world."

I bought the print. I thought I would give it to S as an engagement gift in lieu of a ring. It was the first ever expensive piece of art I had ever purchased.

I asked the man for information on the artist. Theo Tobiasse, a student of Chagall who now lived in New York. The man offered to take my postal address and mail me further information about the artist.

P and I finally found our bagels. And a day or two later on the way to the CDG airport, P almost lost the tube with the lithograph when he went to an ATM machine to get some money. He told me later how he almost went mad with panic when he realised what he had done It was still there leaning against the wall when he ran back to retrieve it.

S and I met up again in London. Something happened and I changed my mind. I took the tube back with me to Malaysia, sad and broken.

Several weeks later a parcel arrived in the post from Paris. The man in the gallery had kept his promise and more. There were several photostated pages from a book featuring Tobiasse. There was also a limited edition signed cloth-bound note-book featuring words and drawings by Tobiasse. I was moved by his generosity.

The lithograph remains rolled up in my old bedroom back at my parents. I haven't unrolled it since. I moved out two years later but still have stuff there. It has become a part of the relics proving my history there. Every now and again I trawl the Internet hoping to find a picture or a record of this particular Tobiasse lithograph. Perhaps it is now worth more.

In just the last three hours I tried again to google "Tobiasse". No new information has turned aup about the print. S will visit in November. She is married now but will travel home to attend to a sick mother. I am thinking that maybe I will try to look for the tube, unroll the print, frame it, and present it to S as a belated wedding gift. I may change my mind.

Her husband of two and a half years won't be joining her on this trip. It tempts me to hijack S into an extra-marital affair but I expect the thought to remain a school-boy fantasy. I wonder how the man at the gallery is doing. I wonder how P is doing. I have forgotten what a bagel tastes like.