Paul Rebeyrolle 1926-2005
Paul Rebeyrolle was a French artist who largely dedicated his career to highlighting philosophical and political issues in very expressive, almost furious, works. He was born in November 1926 in Eymoutiers, France and died in February 2005 in Boudreville in Côte-d'Or. From the young age of five, Reyberolle suffered from tuberculosis of the bones, causing him total immobilisation. He spent this time drawing and his parents and teachers taught him to read and write. The mid 1930s was a time of great difficulty for young Reyberolle as he learned to walk again after period of convalescence. By 1937, the family had moved to Limoges and Reyberolle began secondary education, focusing on a baccalaureate in Philosophy.
At the age of 18, Reyberolle went up to Paris by "the first train of the Liberation”, having known for a long time that he wanted to be a painter. Despite longing for the city, he was extremely passionate about nature, having grown up in the country. Yet, there was always a feeling that a conquest of freedom was an absolute necessity. He lived in Paris through the 1940s and devoted himself to the discovery of painting through various exhibitions. For example, he saw Soutine at the Galerie de France and Picasso at the Salon d'Automne. But the most significant experience for Reyberolle was the reopening of the Louvre. As the rooms opened, he discovered the likes of Rubens, Rembrandt and Titian. Keen to discover more masterpieces, Reyberolle travelled to Spain and Italy in 1950. He also participated in group exhibitions and won a Young Painter prize at the time.
'I don't understand this world at all, and that's part of its richness.'
After his return to Paris, his career started as he began to have solo shows. It was also at this time that, motivated by the turmoil of the Cold War and fuelled by propaganda, Reyberolle joined the Communist Party for a brief time. By 1956, after the events in Hungary, he left the party. This is symbolised by a large painting which he called “Hope to see you soon.”
The following years were marked by a manifestation towards abstract painting and socialist realism. He created figurative canvases, often violent, and populated by nude figures. He also focused on abstractions of natural motifs connected with his passion for fly-fishing.
After years of some success, Reyberolle left Paris in 1963. He settled in the countryside to live and work there. He still showed in exhibitions in Paris at the time, most frequently at the Maeght Gallery. He continued to work, fuelled by his political views and rage against the capitalism that emerges after the Second World War. His work became more serene in the late 1970s as he resorted to painting landscapes, infused with a theme of permanence. A couple of years later, he had his first retrospective at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais in Paris. More exhibitions followed, and in 1995 he created his own museum space named ‘Espace Paul Rebeyrolle’ in his hometown, Eymoutiers.