Arthur Luiz Piza was born on January 13th, 1928 in São Paulo. At the age of 7, a serious car accident isolated him from other children and from traditional education. He is given private lessons and reads continuously. One day, he is offered a book on Van Gogh. He copies the reproductions and knows then that art will be his universe.
He owes his initial training to the Brazilian painter Antonio Gomide, who taught him oil on canvas and fresco techniques. He also owes him the encounter with his future wife, Clelia Dente, who also took courses at Gomide’s studio at that time. They married in 1949 – and it is thus together that they came to Paris in 1951, where they eventually settled.
In the French capital, he rubs shoulders with artists from all horizons such as the painters Nicolas de Staël and Zao Wou-Ki, befriends expatriates such as the Argentines Julio Le Parc, Luis Tomasello, Horacio Garcia-Rossi, Antonio Segui or Roberto Matta, meets the Brazilians Sérgio Camargo, Lygia Clark, Sérvulo Esmeraldo and Flavio Shiró.
Together with Le Parc, Matta, Tomasello et Garcia-Rossi, Krasno, Noé, Varnarsky, Maza, Novoa, Gamarra Netto, Ravelo and Guzman, Piza will establish in 1980 the Espace latino-américain, which he’ll preside for a number of years.
This commitment was a long-lasting one : Clelia and Arthur Luiz’s home was one of the hotspots of a network of solidarity for Brazilian exiles who sought asylum in France after the 1964 coup. A tradition of hospitality they will keep well beyond the period of the dictatorship: many are the young artists coming to Paris, be it to study at the Beaux-Arts school or just for a short visit, who can bare witness to the warmth with which they were greeted by the couple.
In the studio, year in year out, painting and engraving never stopped nourishing each other – as he – as much a researcher as a poet, an engraver and painter as a sculptor – never stopped renewing himself.
There were numerous international exhibitions, punctuated by many awards: National Grand Prize for Engraving at the São Paulo Biennale in 1959, David Bright Prize for Engraving at the Venice Biennale in 1966, Gold Medal for Engraving at the Biennale of Florence in 1970, Engraving Prize at the Cracow Biennial in 1970 and at the Puerto Rico Biennale in 1990. In France, he was made Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.
A tireless explorer of the most diverse materials – from paper to porcelain, from copper to simple sisal mats – his production ranges from small pieces to structures that impose themselves in public spaces.
Arthur Luiz Piza passed away in Paris on May 26, 2017, at the age of 89.