Touby’s multi-layered abstractions have been acclaimed in every corner of the nation as well as in prestigious galleries around the world, having been exhibited in such public venues as Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; America Haus and the Museum Fur Konkrete Kunst Ingolstadt, both in Munich, Germany; American Embassies in Algeria, Estonia, Jordan, Kuwait, Nassau, Paris, and Tunisia; Museum Of Realism And Atheism, Lvov, Ukraine; Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY; and Provincetown Museum, Provincetown, MA.
After completing the art curricula at New York’s Pratt Institute and the National Academy of Art, Touby was transitioning from the figurative oil paintings that she sold as a student to more abstract canvases when she became a student of Richard Pousette-Dart, youngest member of the first generation of the New York School of abstract expressionists.
According to art critic Susan Inniss, “Pousette-Dart first came to her attention in the mid-1980s, when she saw an exhibition of his paintings at the Virginia Miller Gallery in Coral Gables.” His first exhibition in the south, that 1985 show, titled “Richard Pousette-Dart, Paintings From the 1940s to the Present,” was heralded by Dr. Philip George, a prominent local collector, who told Miller “This may well be the most important exhibition ever held in the history of Miami.” Miami Herald art critic Helen Kohen called the Pousette-Dart show “a highlight of the season.”
Inniss writes that later, when Touby joined his class at the Art Students’ League, Pousette-Dart “slowly demystified this visual language for her. His existential philosophy and faith in the primal or ‘first intensity of feeling’ in one’s painting…directed Touby to reconnect with her expressive instincts intuitively felt as a child.”
Many of Touby’s most recent works at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries were from her series, “Homage to Giotto,” and featured the textures and colors of the frescoes of the Italian master. Several of those will be included in the current exhibition.
Writing about Touby’s “Homage to Giotto” series, the well-known Ed McCormack states that “By troweling one color over another in broad horizontal swaths, broken here and there by scumbled see-through patches that create a kind of purposeful pentimento, Touby even suggests the erosion that time has wrought upon the surfaces of Giotto’s great frescoes.”
McCormack goes on to note that rather than “making too much of the relation to landscape-space in the horizontal bias of Touby’s compositions…better one should see these elements in her work for what they are: tactile subtleties and felicities attendant to lush, vibrantly autonomous areas of color that require no justification beyond their undeniable beauty and the sensual pleasure they provide.”
Describing an earlier but not dissimilar series of Touby’s works, Susan Inniss states “What first strikes one about these paintings is the clarity of structure, purity of the luminous rich colors, the confident handling of lush paint and the abundant surface textures which produce an illusion of depth and ambiance……Raw emotionalism is expressed by gestural marks, which Touby executes with brushes, spatulas and cloth.”
The notorious Wikileaks files disclosed that Touby’s week-long visit to Kuwait sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s ART in Embassies Program was the subject of a series of cables. One notes “Energetic and charming Ms. Touby conducted outreach to hundreds of Kuwaiti youth through her popular lectures to art students at the Women’s College at Kuwait University, the American University of Kuwait, Gulf University of Science & Technology, the Universal American School and the PAAET College of Basic Education and Interior Design/Arts.”
Other cables state that she was featured in an interview with “Kuwait Review: Literature, Culture & the Arts,” a local art and literature monthly magazine, as well as appearances on two popular television programs and in articles in the daily newspapers “Kuwait Times” and “Al-Seyassah, ” concluding:
“Ms. Touby’s fascinating displays of her work and energetic lectures before hundreds of students on the topic of “The Journey of an American Artist” were polished, riveting, and so well-received that she continued to make new contacts until just hours before her return flight to the U.S.”
Her latest works pay homage to the late Sidney Geist, an American author, sculptor and art critic, whose warehouse studio shared the same floor as Touby’s. Whenever she came or went to their elevator, she passed by the battered white door to his area. It inspired her to title her most recent series of paintings “Sidney’s Door.” The exhibition will continue through September 2016.
Greater Miami’s longest-established contemporary fine art gallery, ArtSpace/ Virginia Miller Galleries is in the heart of the Coral Gables business and restaurant district at 169 Madeira Avenue, which is eight blocks north of Miracle Mile. Gallery hours are noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and by appointment . For more information, please call 305-444-4493.