Artist Marthe Hekimi (née Marta Szostakowska) was born in Łódź, Poland in 1884 and pursued an art career despite family opposition, studying in Poland, Switzerland and Germany, before departing for Paris in search of artistic freedom. She is documented travelling across Europe from the 1930s, exhibiting paintings at Galerie Jeanne Bucher-Myrbor, Paris in 1936, and with Max Bill’s Allianz group in the Kunsthaus Zurich in 1942. During the war she created a series of 'Fantasies' in pen-and-ink on paper, as well as works referencing existential concerns, including 'Fear' and 'Catastrophe'. Postwar, she exhibited at Ben Uri Gallery in London in 1947 in a two-person show with the Viennese Jewish artist Sophie Korner (who had been deported and killed in 1942), showing again in 1948, 1949 and 1950, and gifting work to the collection. The accompanying catalogue from the 1947 exhibition states that Hekimi 'felt an artist of the 20th century should not copy nature and in order to express inner reality she worked with more or less abstract forms'. Her paintings and drawings are expressive and highly imaginative, mixing elements of Surrealism and fantasy and often combining people and animals. After marriage to an Iranian diplomat, Abel Hassan Hekimi (b. 1887), probably in the early 1920s (their son was born in Geneva in 1926), Hekimi continued her peripatetic lifestyle, spending long periods in Persia (Iran) - which greatly influenced her work - as well as London and by 1947 was living in New York, where she also exhibited. Her death date is unknown. Her work is held in the UK in the Ben Uri Collection.
We are grateful to the Jewish Historical Institute, Poland (Żydowski Instytut Historyczny) for assistance with providing biographical details for this entry.