Isis Kischka

1908 1974
(France) 1908 /   (France) 1974

Isi Kischka spent his childhood in Paris, where his parents had settled two years before his birth. His father, who was originally from Poland, first owned a restaurant and later opened a grocery store in the 15 th arrondissement. Isis Kishka attended the public school in Rue Vigée-Lebrun, and later studied at the high schools in Dreux and in Mayence, and finally at the Ecole commerciale in Paris (business school). When he was nineteen years old, he took an interest in painting and in literature. His first job was to design patterns for a factory that produced medals. He met Jacques Copeau, Michel Saint-Denis, Charles Dullin and Georges Pitoëff, and planned to set up a theatre company, but instead turned to painting in 1927 and attended the Grande Chaumière Academy. Parisian critics, notably Waldermar George, noticed his paintings.

The Gestapo arrested Kischka in 1941. He was interned in a camp in Romainville, and later in Compiègne. He was transferred to Drancy, where he stayed for two years until the German army left it in August 1944. In the camps, he became friends with other interned painters such as Jacques Gotko, Savely Schleifer and David Hoychman. They improvised exhibitions of their work. His friends died in deportation. He promised himself to dedicate himself solely to art when the war was over. He considered that he painted two hundred paintings before 1940, which were destroyed by the Nazis.

Back in Paris in 1945, he faced up to financial difficulties right away and took over his father’s store. He painted before going to work and had these two jobs on the go. In 1946, he participated in the creation of the Salon des Peintres témoins de leur temps (literally: Association of painters witnesses of their time) with Jean Cassou, Yvon Bizardel, Raymond Cogniat and Georges Recio.