Albert Bitran was born in Istanbul in 1931. At 17, he comes to Paris to study architechture but quickly drops out to devote himself to painting.
He only is 20 when his geometric works are exhibited in 1951 at Galerie Arnaud, meeting place of the vanguard of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. He participates in numerous events including the first exhibition of abstract art in Caracas and “Divergences” at the Theatre de Babylone.
In 1954 he exhibits at the Galerie Denise René, with a preface by Henri-Pierre Roché who opens his prestigious collection to him and leases him a room boulevard Arago where he works.
Bitran drops the geometric abstraction and turns to research painting which he will follow all his life. He spends long stays in the South of France and his early studies focus on the theme of landscape, a theme he will develop up to “Naissance d’un paysage” (Birth of a landscape) a large collage of 1956 that will participate in the “l’Envolée Lyrique” (Lyric Flight) at the Musée du Luxembourg in 2006.
In 1958, Albert Bitran marries, becomes a French citizen, moves to rue des Plantes and to Rigny-le-Ferron (Aube) where he has a ceramics studio. He also spends prolonged stays in Italy where he works and exhibits. In Paris, Jean Pollak, particularly, shows his works in numerous exhibitions at the Galerie Ariel. In the sixties, Bitran develops the themes of “L’Atelier” (the Studio) and then “Intérieur-Extérieur” ( Inside-Outside) with drawings, marouflé papers and oils, Since 1962 he also experiments with etching and lithography, first at Mourlot, and then at Bellini and Leblanc. In 1961, in his Copenhagen gallery, Borge Birch presents, for the first time in Scandinavia, a Bitran personal exhibition. Northern countries, that he visits often, now show a great interest in his work, as well as Holland, where he exhibits regularly, first at Nova Spectra in The Hague, then, from 1971 on, in Amsterdam at the Gallery Martin de Boer. In 1968, he moves to Notre-Dame-des-Champs, in Montparnasse, where he will work and live until 2000.
Starting in 1970, he creates the “Doubles” an analytic interrogation of his painting. In “Bitran ou la question de l’œil” (Bitran or the interrogating eye) (1975), Claude Lefort writes: “le double condense les termes de l’énigme” ( the double condenses the terminology of the enigma) and in the introduction to the exhibition at Galerie Ariel in 1973, Jean-Louis Baudry: “with the doubles, Bitran perfects his trap.”
In 1973 he creats “Sextuor”, a sequence of six paintings in closed cycle, exhibited according to a plan designed by Ricardo Porro, in museums in Norway, Denmark, Holland, France, and Austria, and which is now acquired by the Toulouse Frac Midi-Pyrenees. ” les Obliques, les Linéaires et les Latéraux ” (Obliques, Linears and Laterals) are the following themes.In 1979 and 1980, Bitran chairs the seminar of the Salzburg Sommerakademie and Manes Sperber prefaces his exhibition at the Traklhauss.
In the early eighties, Bitran sets up his studio in Lot where he works for many months experimenting with oils on paper and cardboard techniques. He creates the “Grandes Formes” (Great Forms) that Patrick Bongers chooses for his first exhibition at Galerie Louis Carré in 1987; these works are also exhibited at the Boisserée gallery in Köln, at Art Point in Tokyo and at Louis Stern in Los Angeles.
A retrospective is dedicated to his works at the Campredon Museum, in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, in 1991. Upon this juncture a filmed interview with Jean Paris is published in Coloquio, the review of the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon. The Maison des Arts Georges Pompidou in Cajarc presents “Albert Bitran, paintings and drawings 1980-1992”, works in which the light and cliffs of the Lot are revealed, with prefaces by Dora Vallier and Claire Stoullig.
Inspired by his childhood memories in Istanbul, and his many voyages in Turkey, the “Arcades” – paintings and sculptures – are initially exposed in Istanbul at Aksanat, and in 1997, at the Nev Gallery in Ankara, then in France at the Espace Ecureuil of Toulouse with a foreword of Pierre Daix.
Since 2000 Bitran lives and works in Montrouge by Paris and Villerville in Normandy. He is Officer of Arts and Letters.
Currently, he works on the “Blacks”, oil painting on paper first exhibited in Mexico in 2008 and in many French cultural centers. He pursues the exploration of this series on large canvas.
His works were shown in two exhibitions in 2010 and 2011 at the Grosvenor Gallery, and are still exhibited there.
A personal exhibition, “Erosion of the Blacks” occurred in 2012 at the Galerie des Tuiliers.
« Albert Bitran never tires of his ability to fascinate. It is impossible to contain his works within a definitive, fixed and therefore completely locked image. It is a guideline, unvarying in its aesthetic sense, with comes together here and there when you look upon his work and which evolves, changes course, reverses and, in doing so, tips us over, taking your soul with it, in this relationship which never ceases to surprise. Black and white moods are evoked at the same time, coupled with amazing leaps of the mind. I repeat : his work is intriguing, upsetting and baffling.» Gérard-Georges Lemaire, 2012
Public collections :
Musée d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
Musée de la Ville de Paris, Paris.
Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris.
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Donation Jacqueline Delubac, Lyon/France.
Musée de Nantes, Donation Gildas Fardel, Nantes/France.
F.R.A.C. Midi-Pyrénées, France.
Les Abattoirs, musée de Toulouse, Toulouse/France.
Musée Municipal de Saint Dié, France.
Musée des Beaux-Arts H. Rigaud, Perpignan/France.
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen/Danemark.
Ny Carlsberg Fondet, Copenhagen/Danemark.
Randers Kunstmuseum, Danemark.
Genthôfte Radhus, Danemark.
Gemeente Museum, La Haye/Holland.
Centraal Museum, Utrech/Holland.
Fondation Roi Baudouin, collection Thomas Neirynck, Bruxelles, Belgique
Fondation Gandur Pour L’art, Genève, Suisse
Museum der 20-Jahrunderts, Vienna/Austria.
Rupertinum Museum, Salzburg/Austria.
Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, Turquie
Istanbul Resim ve Heykel Müzesi, Istanbul/Turkey.
Contemporary Art Society, London/UK.
Sonia Henie-Niels Onstad Art Center, Oslo/Norway.
Lunds Kunsthal, Sweden.
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco/U.S.A.
Museum of Rhodes Island School of Design, New York/U.S.A.
University Museum, Berkeley/U.S.A.
Grunewald Foundation for Graphic Arts, Los Angeles/U.S.A.
Cuban State Collection, La Havane/Cuba.
Fondation Bloemhof, Curaçao