René Laubiès spoke little of his work or only with phrases which were either evident or enigmatic. It took time to see their meaning. “Matter doesn’t interest me. Oil, ink, water colors are only a medium, not an end in themselves. I never tried to make a painting, just to participate in the flow of the universe, of life…” Or again, “I always painted abstracts, because nature is abstract…”
And he doesn’t spend time on his biography. We only know the essentials: his Chinese origins by his mother, his childhood in Hanoi, a short passage in Nice and Morocco, a brilliant beginning of his career in Paris, in other European capitals and in the United States, his refusal to paint in France. “Your studio is everywhere except in Paris” Georges Salles wrote. He was mostly in Asia, especially in India at the end of his life.
“While painters of his generation generaly went back to figurative works with an expressionist tendency, like the painters of the Cobra group, or, following Klein and d’Arman, launched themselves into the New Realism school, Laubiès continued working, without the slightest inflexion, in the path he had set for himself.” Daniel Abadie notes.
He followed his path, paying no attention to others, not opposing them either. He let time link his name to an ephemeral movement, “Nuagism” because he was friendly with some of its members, and in any case it was of no importance he said. His detachment reminds one of Chinese literary figures.
His real family was that of poets, the Chinese classics, but also Americans like Ezra Pound, for whom he translated Dos Cantos (the author’s preferred translation), or Robert Creely, who wrote a very lovely book: “The Immoral Proposition “ in 1953.
Ten years after the death of René Laubiès in 2006, We best speak about his works. They are impressive.
Try hanging one between two bay windows. They resist the most beautiful scenery, help us to love nature even more, sky, sea shore, ethereal nature, water, air, the path of clouds, the ephemeral Instant. His works represent what he wants us the see in nature: the colors and forms are never the same, just as a beach changes color from one minute to the next with the light, the wind, a flight of birds. His paintings, like his drawings, are built on canvas, similar, but never boring or repetitive, since he paints seldom, and only after long periods of meditation in front of a landscape. Most often, one discovers subtle and serine variations, but also violent or even wicked contrasts particularly in the1960’s.
His drawings in ink and watercolor, follow the movements of clouds, expressing the energy of the colors in the sky and over the water; they sometimes give form to the Tao Bird. The discrete upward moving structure of his paintings reveals his thinking, enriched by Taoism and Hinduism, offering a spiritual pathway to the spectacle of the nature surrounding us. His abstraction shows the essence of things, but this essence isn’t in opposition with their appearance. It isn’t only our destiny at stake. Laubiès likes to show silhouettes, fishermen in boats, strollers, birds… apparitions which come to light from time to time with intense attention, but never in a definitively fixed way. Reality is never presented all at once, like a seemingly foreign presence, against which words or the paint brush often are confronted.
The reality of Laubiès is much more fluid, one feels complicit with him, or even more, carried away by the same flow, often in harmony. Our senses are called upon as well as our attentiveness at its highest level, in order to discover not only the essence of nature, an all too conceptual notion for Laubiès, but in its quintessence, its “spirit” which is close to breath, to flux.
He was wary of classification, reporters, but considered close to Chinese painters of the classical periods “Hautes Epoques”: “When they painted, they burned incense, retired to calm and silence, concentrating on their spirit and meditated. They left their sordid daily problems evaporate little by little. Their spirit liberated, they created a vacuum within themselves, communicating with the vital stream that moves the Universe. In harmony with Nature, it is Nature that guided their paint brushes.”
Because they have much so suggest to us, it is in this sense that the works of Laubiès, like nature, are abstracted.
For more information and discoveries, go to the medias section
1994 « René Laubiès, 40 ans … autour du monde », Musée d'art moderne et contemporain, Nice
2001 « Oeuvres de 1985 à 2001 », Galerie Alain Margaron, Paris
2003 « 60 oeuvres de 1949 à 2003 », Galerie Alain Margaron, Paris
2007 « René Laubiès, peintre de la sérénité », Musée Bochum, Allemagne
2007 « Hommage à René Laubiès, l'été dernier à Marie-Galante », Galerie Alain Margaron, Paris
2019 « Par-delà la nature », Galerie Alain Margaron, Paris
2019 « René Laubiès. L'instantané, le fugitif, la trace », Musée de l'Abbaye Sainte-Croix, Les Sables d'Olonne