Rene Laubies was a painter, translator, traveler and writer. He was born in Cholon in the Imperial French Colony of Cochin-china to a well-off family around 1917. His father was Réunionnaise French-Colonial, while his mother was of solid Sinitic roots from the upland Phu-Ly Dynasty of Annamese Mandarins. He died in the pauper's ward of the Government Hospital in Mangalore India on 13 November 2006.
He is associated with Tachisme and Art Informel, but particularly linked to Nuagisme, or the "Cloudist" group of painters.
CLOUDS / Troy Harris
Ascetic-arts research, nuagisme, non-figuration
Rene Laubies was a painter, translator, traveler and writer. He was born in Cholon in the Imperial French Colony of Cochin-china to a well-off family around 1917. His father was Réunionnaise French-Colonial, while his mother was of solid Sinitic roots from the upland Phu-Ly Dynasty of Annamese Mandarins. He died in the pauper's ward of the Government Hospital in Mangalore India on 13 November 2006.
My area of focus may be cautiously expressed as ascetic-arts research methodology with a strong infiltrative-cum-ethnographic data acquisitional bias. My work is rigorously non-institutional aside from the fact that the range of South, Southeast and Far-East Asian ascetic-arts traditions that I study are invariably institutional in and of themselves.
When a Chinese painter of the ancient high period began to paint, he first burned incense, calmed and stilled his mind, collected his spirit and meditated. He let life's troubles and sordid propaganda gradually depart. With his spirit opened, he created an inner emptiness and thereby communed with the vital force that impels the universe. In harmony with Nature, it was That which directed his brush... This is how I meditate and paint myself, in India and les îles de la Sonde, in the nature that I love, tropical and dense, or in the pure luminosity of the desert.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, Morgana Edizioni, Firenze, 2001; trans mine.
Distillations from an ongoing study – A lofty memorandum of narrow inlet not too obscured – as gleaned from a cluster of filtered findings on a freely given data screen of elegant inquiry
I begin this set of scientific postcards from a site that I continue to scrutinize for its links to a range of kinship myths that endue its coastal caravanserai with a fadedness of anonymous hulls and their humble consignments of edible seaweeds, betel-nut, birds nest, raw palm sugar and fermented bean paste, all unloaded now—Moored to the pilings beneath the quiet moon—the squeaking of her wood as she gently rocks on the shallow inlet of the Endau River where years-back Japanese forces came ashore and marched down the road to establish Shonan.
One of quite a number of un-decreed (quasi) postcolonial Sinitic sites one finds around here elapsing in the muted contiguity of writing from an "elsewhere"—a mingling of loci demurred by the gap—But allured by the fact that this deepest southern reach of the Malaya Peninsula constitutes the sole amphiscian zone across the entire Eurasian super-continent. And here in this tropical sun-drenched tract one encounters scores of basal registries strewn as arcs in chance arrangement: scuttled boats half-buried on a riverbank, driftwood drying on curves of beach with scattered whitecaps flagging the gaze to the hazy forms of offshore islands floating like clouds on the distant horizon. And soaked in the torrid midday sun that relentlessly elutriates the baleful intimations of these proximal devices smidged together through the supplication of quiet tides; one senses the plunge of sky-blue screens as lambent veils of spatial buoyancy. And one nimbly abides there to better intervene upon, lighten and extend the emotive schema that discerns exquisite tragic text by the polished hue of its lithic dross awash in the variegated surge of enchantment splashing pure on the shorelines of perception...
But in the gap and before this reaches your eyes, I'll have spread my sails to monsoon winds over metal blue seas due south though squalls and slept one night at Singapura—gold light seeping through the morning window mingles with the greys of camphor and punk smoke. And again set sail through the Straits of Malacca and beyond many days en voyage upon the wind to Arabian Sea waves lapping on the shore, and secure safe haven in North Malabar. This tropical littoral that holds great importance in the segmentation of ongoing tasks like combing the pristine stretches of beach for a secret cove of hermeneutic vantage, gathering the sponges of gentle ideation callously blurred as events or things, and re-imbuing them with values of persuasive mutability, fortuitous misreading and primmediacy. A lofty memorandum of narrow inlet not too obscured sees writing and painting and their performative foundations, their embedded conduits running in the background, comprised of an operant triadic blend that is perceivable in terms of the combing of a beach as guided by a mode of predisposed enchantment that constitutes a form of aesthetic yoga—the principle of "li" at work across these waters, currently strong on its easterly tack in the countervailing cycles of tidal rinse that parallel and second as a post-Nuagiste disquisition on the life and work of Rene Laubies as a coasting vessel foraging through eddies of neglected backwaters, mediating vistas, ink drenched skies as the seasonal transhumance shapes the flow with its billowed sails over open seas along a multi-culti string of pearl-like entrepôts replenishing stores.
Shifting tropes, we explicate the way that painting and poetry and their methodological apparati form (when merged) a triadic (not dyadic) permutation describable in terms of an archaeological excavation that progresses equilibrially accommodating structures ascertained along planes of co-extensive being. And so the edge (though we're never quite sure where it is because it's always grazing downward into new emerging surfaces) arises from a sense of "being in the field" and from the traction one gains through decoding and amalgamating random areas of layered abandonment, strewn and fragmented, which on top of that display no ambitions to be built, relied or presumed upon.
In handling calligraphy, or handsome writing, we acknowledge that it holds very different social statuses in Eastern and Western art historical cultures. Not only that, in Asiatic tradition, and particularly in Far East literati practice, there is neither a compelling nor a valid distinction drawn between the elements of poetry, painting and calligraphy as such, nor (interestingly) between the notions of image and reflection, idea and word—between presentation and representation. Thus in our current transcultural epoch, painting may not even be considered "painting" but rather an extension of writing (écriture), which covers simultaneously images and letters (& therefore rhetoric) and renders such terms as image and letter remarkably 'irrelevant in a very strict sense' (Inaga).
Research in this area is scarce and in its infancy. It seeks collaboration with the aim of exploring a variety of Far East Asiatic loci, both geographic and knowledge-based, in attempt to engage and absorb rich sentiments conducive to the reading of the spirit of a place on the elegant verge of decrepitude—to ingeniously mooch among the relegated elements and sculpt installations of poetic motion elapsing in the crumbling facades and veneers of illustrious sea, land, town and mindscapes—to detect and to synchronize omitted fragmentation that corroborate and compliment preliminary findings in a way that makes this study stand out as unique in the panorama of literati research. It attempts to trace the global rise of non-figuration—historically, theoretically, and stylistically—and to use as its conveyance a critical analysis of Rene Laubies' painting and writing, with particular focus on the "haute époque" painters Ma Yuan /馬遠 (1190) and Bada Shanren /八大山人 (1630), both of whom Laubies esteemed as "the pure abstract ones, because the stain held their interest, not the rock or the boat that the stain perhaps suggested" (Laubies).
But is this really so? Though displaying very credible "abstract" tendencies that make them obvious precursory candidates, Ma and Bada were figurative artists. From where or whom in the history of painting might we start to assume the earliest appearance of non-figuration, "pure" or otherwise?
In tracing non-figuration's global rise we additionally scrutinize pre-war European "geometric abstraction"—"Mondrian, Kandinsky, Circle and Square" (Laubies)—and set that apart from "lyrical abstraction" that began to appear around 1950 in the relatively formal modes of Art Informelle, Tachisme and Nuagisme. But it is lyrical abstraction that brings recognition, "and at the same time starts to be attacked" (Laubies). But there is not the remotest line of descent from pre- to post-war "abstract" tendencies, and based on this alone it logically follows that this non-figuration does not have its origin in pre-war European geometric painting. In Laubies' view this exposes the need for painting "to return to nature (itself abstract) and be renewed by that."
Our revaluation of the literati current as a distinctly (given) formulaic heritage site calls for a number of new suppositions and conceptual perspectives. These largely pivot on Laubies' statement that "nature is abstract," a premise we hold and therewith confront the generally accepted "abstract vs. realist" oppositional paradigm that we carefully disable and quarantine. Deprived of its standard oppositional assignation, "abstraction" is a vague and deceptive term with very little true analytical value, a pointless and dissimulative contradistinction placed between the notions of radical anaconicist non-figuration and the pre-photographic era taxonomic impulse to "represent," for which the Sinitic language group has no word.
We therefore question the appropriateness of "representation" in scholarly art-historical discourse and set our critiquing filters high against every form of figurative "manga" incursion and their propagandistic and pornographic corollaries. The complete separation of manga practice from the analytical fundaments of Nuagiste poesis fiercely oversees depriving archaeology its unimpeded sanction to fashion the findings of its own excavations.
In its current edition, this intensely naturalist approach to poesis—its hermeneutic outcomes and presentations—is the methodological documentation of a range of adjunct interventions. Through collaborative reliance and appropriative attention on the artefactuality of sub-prime notions (their constituent encasements of impending actuation), methodology holds primacy in and of its own irrepressible urge to amend the inner logic of its mirroring apparatus mired in the quarry of a colour field allusion to a painting as an archaeological intercession that stretches out for tantalizing trope after trope midst the tropic field of inadequate tropes as to bear what is stained in the data mines of probity and predicated pleas for off-site storage—a consensual poem of interred poesis where elutriation speaks for herself via artefact, fact and extenuating treatments imbued in the sediment and what remains of a painting as an archaeological find.
Having started to discuss the work at hand we're immediately confounded by a dearth of terms insufficient to expound a poetic painting born in the crevasses of cultural hybridity and nourished in the no man's lands of ascetic transmutation. Post-Nuagiste, or Cloudist methodology and its hermeneutic ramifications display a naturalist deconstructive practice with procedural conventions that plainly evince stylistic elements all its own. It initially functions as a prudent probe, but its movements go way beyond problem proposal. It marks and defaces, flattens and distorts, under rides and demeaned ones creative push. It eradicates totally and leaves in the lurch a rude mistrust that snubs 'all reliance on technique and virtuosity' (Laubies). Its gravity is felt as aesthetic quandary, as the unexpected marks of composure and release that are not to be perused for their mythical invention but for the spatial sphere that they elutriate, and their having special 'recourse to divinity' (Zoetmulder). With inbuilt ease, resolution and resolve, Laubiesan procedure leaves a lot to chance.
So how to accept this exhilarating challenge and crack the artist's liminal appeal when standard terminology so deeply disappoints us? Here's a hint. By acknowledging a pre-existent Cloudist dictum and seeing what is given to explain the subject in a manner that eludes all convoluted reading of the stain of sliding cloud and sea.
Palakunnu, North Malabar, December 2011
Cahill, James. 1994. The Painter's Practice, How artists lived and worked in Traditional China.
Cantos et poèmes choisis / Ezra Pound. 1958. Traduction de Rene Laubies, Paris: P.J. Oswald. Harambourg, Lydia. 1998. "Rene Laubies: L’Ecole de Paris, 1945-1965," Dictionnaire des peintres. http://www.bj-fineart.fr/documentation/laubies/peintres.php
Harris, Troy. 2005. Grafting Plato's Shadow Play: a spray can version of metaleptic mimesis. Ashé Journal, Vol 5, Issue 1, 3-33. http://ashejournal.com/index.php?id=42
Harris, Troy. 1990. On Laubiès' Work. René Laubiès, Octobre-Novembre 1990, Galerie Michel Broomhead, Paris; Achevé d'imprimer sur les presses de Mira Impression à Libourne, Conception: Canovas Belchi.
Inaga, Shigemi. 2007. "Is Art History Globalizable? A critical commentary from a Far Eastern Point of view." In Elkins (ed.), Is Art History Global?: 249-279.
Laubiès, René. 2001. Titratti e Aforismi / Portraits et Aphorismes (bilingual, Italian and French), Morgana Edizioni, Firenze.
Verges, Francoise. 2003. Writing on Water: Peripheries, Flows, Capital, and Struggles in the Indian Ocean / Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique / Vol. 11, No. 1, spring. Duke University Press.
Zoetmulder, P.J. 1974. Kalangwan: A Survey of Old Javanese Literature. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
I deplore being drawn into association with any form religious ideology or dogma and the obsessive concerns for genealogical purity and consolidation of legitimacy that attend them. This is how I came to ascetic-arts research.
Generally in the arts one finds an environment more open to the birth of theoretical tendencies and consequential schools expressing these. But a school, as opposed to the sect, let's say, is distinguished as something that is far more imbued with the freedom to - if necessary - undermine completely its very own foundations.
Facchetti was the consummate mid-20 to early-21st cen global art-historical patriarch. Paul was among Rene Laubiès' earliest supporters in the 50s in Paris and his Galerie Facchetti was the first to exhibit a selection of Laubiès' work under the banner of nuagisme. In Portraits et Aphorismes (2001), René expresses the admiration that he held for his long-time friend and colleague:
"Few galleries can ... pride themselves in so many discoveries that mark their era."
Nuagisme (literally "cloudism") is a French art-critical term that was advanced in the 1950s by art critic Julien Alvard (1916-1974). The term nuagisme initially designated the painters René Laubies, Frédéric Benrath, René Duvillier, Fernando Lerin and Nasser Assar whose work was seen as broadly comprising a modern naturalist non-representational abstract movement that remained aloof to prevailing theoretical disputes by refusing to enter the oppositional framework that raged between geometrical and lyrical abstraction. Writing in 1955, Alvard described nuagisme as an "insurrection against the form" in attempt to paint the "boundless."
Pound, Laubies, Alvard & Facchetti
Assembling notes around Paul Facchetti
Cloud stains, a post-Nuagiste critique
Laubies' portrait [of Ezra Pound] only underscores what he told me personally (ca 1989) about visiting Pound at the facility for the criminally insane in the late 50's. He remarked that Pound – having been there for about ten years – was 'not at all affected by the environment. He got on well with a supervising official and all sorts of people were able to visit him.' He characterized Pound as 'a large, strong and virile man.' "He spoke French very well", Laubies remarked, and French was their language of communication. 'Pound was always curious about ancient cultures and always researching something new. Even in his late years he studied Egyptian hieroglyphs... In the end he grew tired of living and died in Venice...' In 1989 after staying in his 6th-floor walk up at 3 Rue des Beaux-arts, Paris, I met Laubies in Venice. We visited Pound’s grave in San Michele Cemetery on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.
When a Chinese painter of the ancient high period began to paint, he first burned incense and gathered his thoughts in the calm of silence, concentrated his mind and meditated. He let life's annoyances slowly fade. His spirit free, he created space and communicated with the vital force that impels the universe. In harmony with Nature, it was She who guided his brush... This is how I meditate and paint myself, in India and the Sunda Islands, in the nature that I love, tropical and dense, or in the pure luminosity of the desert.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, (from the forward) 2001; trans tharris.
Quand un peintre chinois des Hautes-Epoques se mettait à peindre, il brûlait de l'encens, se recueillait dans le calme et le silence, concentrait son esprit et méditait. Il laissait les ennuis et le sordide quotidien s'évanouir peu à peu. Son esprit libéré, il faisait le vide en lui et communiait ainsi avec l'élan vital qui meut l'univers. Alors, en harmonie avec la Nature, c'est Elle qui guidait son pinceau... C'est ainsi que je médite et peins moi-même, dans les Indes, les îles de la Sonde, dans la nature que j'aime tropicale et dense ou dans la pure lumière du désert.
A painter who claims to paint what he wants is mistaken. The painting is imposed on us, changes its course, goes left and right, then suddenly stops. It knows when to stop. Aging painters lay it on more and more. Heavy toil does not restore grace. Chinese painters of the classical period knew when to stop. They accentuated accidents detected in nature. A poetic and musical work of art owes everything to inspiration. One needs to forget technique and virtuosity. One cannot paint the emptiness without painting the fullness!René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans. tharris.
Un peintre qui prétend faire le tableau qu'il veut se trompe. Le tableau s'impose à nous, dévie sa course, prend à gauche et à droite, puis soudain s'arrête. Il faut savoir s'arrêter. Le peintre en vieillissant charge et surcharge. Le lourd labeur ne remplace pas la grâce. Les Chinois de l'époque classique eux savaient s'arrêter. Ils pouvaient voir dans la nature un accident qu'ils accentuaient. Le tableau poétique et musical doit tout à l'inspiration. Pour eux il faut oublier la technique, la virtuosité. On ne peut peindre le vide sans peindre le plein !
Pre-war abstract and geometric painting (Mondrian, Kandinsky, Circle and Square, De Stilj) has no great diffusion. It's only after 1950 that abstract painting starts to be recognized, and at the same time attacked. It is lyrical abstraction, Tachiste, informele, Nuagiste that carries. And this is why I think that abstract art is still in its infancy. It should return to nature (which is abstract) and be renewed by that.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
La peinture abstraite et géométrique avant-guerre (Mondrian, Kandinsky, Cercle et Carré, De Stilj) n'a pas une grande diffusion. Ce n'est qu'après 50 que la peinture abstraite commence à être reconnue, et du même coup attaquée. C'est l'abstraction lyrique, tachiste, informelle, nuagiste, qui l'emporte. Et c'est pour cela que je pense que l'art abstrait n'en est qu'à ses débuts. Il doit rejoindre la nature (qui est abstraite) et se renouveler par là.
The flair is unexplained, if not for that it would be too easy, and everyone would have some! When seeing a painting for the first time Facchetti senses what is new in it, what is personal, while the others all look at what can sell, at what it resembles. In the film that was recently dedicated to him, one sees Facchetti walking in his gallery. It's his garden: Sima, Pollock, Hundertwasser, Michaux, Dubuffet and Laubiès. He never listened, that's his taste, he persisted and did not cede. Few galleries can therefore pride themselves in so many discoveries that mark their era. Just as he knew to find the young painters, he exposed through his photographs the personality of Breton, Ossorio, Gracq, Michaux, Fautrier, [Michel] Sima, Wols...René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
Le flair ne s'explique pas, sans quoi cela serait trop facile, tout le monde en aurait ! Facchetti voyant un tableau pour la première fois sentait ce qu'il y avait de nouveau, de personnel, alors que tous les autres cherchent ce qu'on peut vendre, à quoi cela ressemble. Dans le film qui vient de lui être consacré, on voit Facchetti se promener dans sa galerie. C'est son jardin : Sima, Pollock, Hundertwasser, Michaux, Dubuffet et Laubiès. Il n'a jamais écouté que son goût, s'entête et ne cède pas. Peu de galeries peuvent s'enorgueillir de tant de découvertes qui ont marquee leur époque. De même qu'il a su trouver les jeunes peintres, il a montré dans ses photos la personnalité de Breton, Ossorio, Gracq, Michaux, Fautrier, Sima, Wols...
Passing through "la Vallée-aux-Loups", one arrived to Messagier's house. Fautrier had filled it with old furniture, dolls, Indian wall paper. Fautrier received sumptuously: glasses from Venice, old dishes and the ferocious machine-gunning of his contemporaries. Especially Dubuffet, César and others. There were always many writers and pretty women (at a given moment, a veritable harem: arriving one day I saw an enormous mulatto on the knees of an old shriveled critic). There was Paulhan, Ungaretti, Palma Bucarelli, Alvard, Iris Clert, jealous of Iolas and Tarika. Fautrier then retorted: "But my poor Iris, you have no money, you...." He discovered me and helped me win the Fénéon Prize in 1954. A critic of art, of which I made a career (what I made was an enemy, what could be more natural); each time I exhibit I am sent a dwarf, Japanese by preference, mulching at regular intervals "Fautrier, Fautrier." So if Fautrier were the father of something (he hardly liked paternity), it would be the materialists like Tapies, Leroy and others...René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
En passant par "la Vallée aux Loups", on arrivait à la maison de Messagier. Fautrier l'avait remplie de meubles anciens, poupées, papier peint à l'indienne. Fautrier recevait somptueusement : verres de Venise, vaisselle ancienne et mitraillage féroce de ses contemporains. Surtout Dubuffet, César et autres. Il y avait toujours beaucoup d'écrivains et de jolies femmes (à un moment donne, un véritable harem: arrivant un jour j'aperçus une énorme mulâtresse sur les genoux du critique rabougri). Il y avait Paulhan, Ungaretti, Palma Bucarelli, Alvard, Iris Clert, jalouse de Iolas et de Tarika. Fautrier lui rétorquait alors: "Mais ma pauvre Iris, tu n'as pas d'argent, toi…". Il m'avait découvert quand il ma fait donner le Prix Fénéon en 1954. Un critique d'art dont j'ai fait la carrière (ce qui m'en a fait un ennemi, quoi de plus naturel), chaque fois que j'expose m'envoie une naine, japonaise de préférence, paillant à intervalles réguliers "Fautrier, Fautrier". Alors que si Fautrier est le père de quelque chose (il n'aimait guère la paternité), ce serait des matiéristes comme Tapies, Leroy et autres…
Recent work expressly draws on a declarative ensemble of advanced study disciplines that represent an imminent ascetic arts tendency. It serially combines a range of departures that spring from a diversity of discursive fields including history, poetry, transculturalism, comparative religion, social anthropology, ethnography, rhetoric, fine arts, nuagisme, et al, but in amalgamation with a transferred sense of the scientific method that mirrors at once both pratyaharic* and middle-way strategies intent on sustaining a posed neutrality in regard to its separated object field (gocara), hence being in effect a passive transmitter of freely given data. I also apply the ancient pan-Indian Four Yogas matrix as an expedient model for data filtration, formulation and appraisal. The categorization of this four-fold criterion comprises karma, bhakti, jnana and raja yogas. The implementation of this analytic standard demands very well-argued justifications as the gauging paradigm confronts dilemmas of suspended inconsistencies and interpretive divergences forming at the interface of normative principles and the more iconoclastic, futuristic and artistic proclivities, obliging thus the skilful interweaving of conflict and harmony, old and new. With regard to transculturalism, I track James Elkins (2007) and propose that our practice effects richer meaning 'when we take not only our subject matter but our interpretive methodologies from the cultures that we study.' Post-modern thought plays a role all the same by providing us crucial analytical tools. Complicit to these are the hermeneutic strategies of deconstruction and defamiliarization, dissidence and suspicion.
* Pratyahara (Sanskrit): The freeing of awareness from the separated field of perceptible sense objects.
Faithful to the characters of Henry James he descended upon the Hotel Albany: gilt candelabras and cuddly toys 1900. He arrived from Basel where for the first time in his life he said "I have a house thanks to Beyeler." With Julien Alvard whom he loved much (and who had had an accident while going to see him in California) we went to dinner at George Salles' house. Mark Tobey brought his paintings on paper and leaned them against the walls of the dining room, between Picasso, Masson and my paintings on the floor. "All that holds and is held" said George Salles. Thus today I see a very beautiful red Tobey in the French museum.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
Fidèle aux personnages d'Henry James il descendait à l'Hôtel d'Albany : candélabres dorés, peluches 1900. Il venait de Bâle où pour la première fois de sa vie disait-il "J'ai une maison grâce à Bayeler". Avec Julien Alvard qu'il aimait beaucoup (et qui avait eu un accident en allant le voir en Californie) nous allions dîner chez Salles. Mark Tobey apportait ses peintures sur papier et les alignait contre les murs de la salle à manger, entre les Picasso, Masson et mes tableaux par terre. "Tout cela tient et se soutient" disait Georges Salles. C'est ainsi que je vis un très beau Tobey rouge, aujourd'hui dans les musée français.
When I was tired of swallowing the snakes on which Paris nourishes its painters, I left either for Italo Magliano's place in Milan, or for Jean-Pierre Wilhelm's place in Düsseldorf. As I had known him in Paris as one who had translated all that was difficult – Malraux, Michaux, etc. – when he returned to Germany I advised him to open a gallery. He and [Rolf] Järling, in Wüppertal, brought a touch of something "other" to a Germany turned in on itself. This gallery [Gallery 22] served as springboard for the talent of Manfred de la Motte. He brought to light our German painter friends: Hoehme, Gaul, Schultze, as well as the painters of Julien Alvard and Fautrier.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
Quand j'étais fatigue d'avaler les couleuvres dont Paris nourrit ses peintres, je partais soit à Milan chez Italo Magliano, soit chez Jean-Pierre Wilhelm à Düsseldorf. Je l'avais connu à Paris, alors qu'il traduisait tout ce qui était difficile : Malraux, Michaux, etc. quand il retourna en Allemagne je lui conseillai d'ouvrir une galerie. Lui et Järling, à Wüppertal, apportèrent une note "autre", dans une Allemagne repliée sur elle-même. Cette galerie servit de tremplin au talent de Manfred de la Motte. Il y fit connaitre nos amis peintres allemands : Hoehme, Gaul, Schultze, ainsi qui les peintres de Julien Alvard et Fautrier.
Note: Jean-Pierre Wilhelm (1912–68) was a collector, art historian and later the founder of Gallery 22 in Düsseldorf. He made contacts with gallery owners, especially in Paris, and with artists from abroad. Rolf Järling owned Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal.
His room at the Hotel Crillon was the cave of Ali-Baba: Greek marble, Egyptian statues, Matisse and Braque, small Max Ernst and Brauner, large Matta; all of that is now with the [Menil Collection] in Huston and at his villa in Athens all out of gold. His taste for and refinements to definitively established surrealism. Aesthete, he played with pink and yellow diamonds in his pocket, and paid us with dollars in boxes of chocolates. Former dancer he lived in and by beauty.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
Sa chambre à l'Hôtel Crillon était la caverne d'Alì-Baba: marbre grec, statues égyptiennes, Matisse et Braque, petits Max Ernst et Brauner, grands Matta; tout cela maintenant est au Musée de Huston et dans sa villa à Athènes tout en or. Son goût sûr et raffiné à établi définitivement le surréalisme. Esthète, il jouait avec des diamants roses et jaunes dans sa poche, et nous payait avec des dollars dans des boîtes de chocolats. Ancien danseur il a vécu dans et par la beauté.
Petite and replete, she reigned in her own Hotel de Passy where Artaud had put together "The Cenci." She was surrounded by the "Artauds": Blin, Marthe Robert, Adamov, Mrs Jouve and Paule Thévenin. Not having any prejudice, she accepted me among Picabia and Bryen and some "Café Society Americans."René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
Petite et replète, elle régnait dans son hôtel de Passy où Artaud avait monté les "Cenci". Il y avait autour d'elle les " Artaud" : Blin, Marthe Robert, Adamov, madame Jouve et Paule Thévenin. N'ayant aucun préjugé elle m'accepta entre Picabia et Bryen et quelques "Café society américaines".
At [Roberto] Matta's, one fills the swimming pool: "This pipe is me, all the money that I make sets out again immediately. My women, my families, my house, and this swindler who exploits me (our merchant)..."René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
Chez Matta, on remplit la piscine: "Ce tuyau c'est moi, tout l'argent que je fais repart immédiatement. Mes femmes, mes familles, mes maison, et cet escroc la qui m'exploite (notre marchand)…"
The conservators in France are like all the French, they detest the painting and the painters that live. Deaths reassure them, but be on guard because the "second death" of official artists may prove definitive and these conservators will in the final analysis pass for idiots, which is in fact their secret terror. The zeal of these petty functionaries of art makes me laugh. They are as quickly dismissed as promoted. They take themselves for Louis XIV and end up like Louis XVI.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
Les conservateurs en France sont comme tous les français, ils détestent la peinture et les peintres vivants. Les morts les rassurent, mais il faut prendre garde car la "seconde mort" des artistes officiels peut être définitive et ces conservateurs passeront en fin de compte pour des idiots, ce qui est en fait leur terreur secrète. Le zèle des petits fonctionnaires de l'art me fait rire. Ils sont aussi vite limogés que promus. Ils se prennent pour Louis XIV et finissent comme Louis XVI.
Nina, forever young at 80 years, walked through Gastaat with all of her diamonds on day and night. One night she was strangled by and for her diamond reverie, but then one found of them in quantities hidden behind the radiators. She lived just for that, as her friends the old billionaires who held the New York galleries in the 50s and 60s (before the tsar Castelli) lived just for whisky. A little babyish but managing Kandinsky's funds very well, like every painter's widow, she only had a liking for "her" period, forsaking Kandinsky's own best painting — that of Munich — created under the reign of a mistress — there's another.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
Nina, toujours jeune a 80 ans, se promenait à Gastaat avec tous ses diamants en plein jour, en pleine nuit. Une nuit elle a été étranglée par et pour sa rivière de diamants, mais on en a trouvé des quantités cachés derrière les radiateurs. Elle ne vivait que pour cela, comme ses amies les vieilles milliardaires comme ses amies les vieilles milliardaires qui tenaient les galeries de New-York en 50-60 avant le tzar Castelli) ne vivaient que pour le whisky. Un peu bébête mais gérant très bien le fonds Kandinsky, elle n'avait comme toutes les veuves de peintres que " sa " période, délaissant la meilleure période de Kandinsky – celle de Munich, mais faite sous le règne d'une maitresse – à une autre.
He discovered my painting at Facchetti's gallery when I was in the United States. He had opened his gallery in via Brera [in Milan] with the support of Italo Magliano, Count Panza, Visconti etc... These collectors immediately bought several of my paintings and I became the friend of Magliano who supported me for more than forty years. Through me, Le Noci knew Fautrier. When I brought him over to "Vallée-aux-Loups", he dropped at Fautrier's feet crying "genius" (which didn't embarrass Fautrier...). After that, everything developed in a rush. Argan, Ungaretti and our dear Palma Bucarelli arranged for him to win the Prize at the Venice Bienniale; but that he had to share it with [Hans] Hartung representing France enraged Fautrier against Malraux who could do nothing!René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
A découvert ma peinture chez Facchetti quand j'étais aux Etats Unis. Il avait ouvert sa galerie Via Brera avec l'appui de Italo Magliano, du Comte Panza, des Visconti etc… Ces collectionneurs m'ont acheté immédiatement plusieurs tableaux et je suis devenu l'ami de Magliano qui m'a soutenu pendant plus de quarante ans. Par moi, Le Noci a connu Fautrier. Quand je l'ai amende a "la Vallée aux loups", il s'est jeté aux pieds de Fautrier en criant au génie (ce qui n'a qas gêné Fautrier…) Apres, tout s'est précipité. Argan, Ungaretti et notre chère Palma Bucarelli lui ont fait avoir le Prix de la Biennale de Venise, mais qu'il a du partager avec Hartung présenté par la France, ce qui a fait enrager Fautrier contre Malraux qui n'y pouvait rien !
I knew Peggy Guggenheim from Facchetti's place. She had recommended a painter to me with whom I became friends, and although very beautiful he was not a gigolo; also Peggy no longer knew who he was when I spoke to her about him! Her collection is important and boring; it is the Ebbing Craft of painting: everything is there, very well indexed, but has no soul.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
J'ai connu Peggy Guggenheim chez Facchetti. Elle m'avait recommandé un peintre dont je suis devenu l'ami, mais quoique très beau il n'était pas gigolo; aussi Peggy ne savait plus qui il était quand je lui en parlais ! Sa collection est importante et ennuyeuse, c'est le Craft Ebbing de la peinture : tout y est, très bien répertorié, mais sans âme.
Sometimes I like to take a morning train about 50 minutes north to Manjeshwar village. On an unpaved lane there's a vegetarian eating place run by a shirtless Brahmin with a flower behind his ear. It's tiny, poorly lit and very traditional. I have a small breakfast then head for the sea. The coast is actually better than at Kappil Beach, being far more isolated and immensely longer. I always walk north in the direction of Kanwatirtha village and choose a pleasant spot to bathe and sun my body. The only other person I'm likely to see is Jogi Manju who sets simple nets and lines in the surf and always manages to catch a fish. I sometimes walk beyond Kanwatirtha; that gets pretty close to the Kerala-Karnataka state border. Mangalore city is not far away; around 20 minutes by bus.
The only other western "tourist" this year is Alfred Windig, a long time German-Italian friend of René's. They met in Morocco in 1984. I first saw Alfred in Varkala, in January 1985. He could hardly speak a word of English then. He manages quite well now.
I'll be back in Malaysia on Feb 17th. I'll have to make Malacca my provisional base as I don't have a place to stay in Singapore. It's a perplexing dilemma. I need to start essential new research at the National Library and care for some other important things. What's the solution?
See also: The work place, On Indian soil, Rene's last walk to the beach, On Laubies's work, Assembling notes around Paul Facchetti.
At a dinner in Rome where Ione, impetuous inspirer of Ungaretti praised physical love, Palma turned to me: "That has always annoyed me!" Indeed this so intelligent and effective woman had to be irritated to also make use of her beauty to obtain what she should have had naturally. She made her Museum of Modern Art towards and against all. In several months, she wrote the catalogue of Fautrier, which remains the only valid work on him. Her gaze, when in turquoise and sometimes a flash of emerald passed, tamed Mussolini and other monsters.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
A un dîner à Rome, où Ione, inspiratrice fougueuse d'Ungaretti, vantait l'amour physique, Palma se tourna vers moi : "Cela m'a toujours ennuyé !" En effet cette femme si intelligente et efficace, a dû être agacée d'avoir à se servir aussi de sa beauté pour obtenir ce qu'elle aurait dû avoir naturellement. Elle fit son Musée d'Art Moderne envers et contre tous. En quelques mois elle rédigea le catalogue de Fautrier qui reste le seul ouvrage valable sur lui. Son regard où dans le turquoise passait parfois l'éclair de l'émeraude, a dompté Mussolini et autres monstres.
There is currently a showing of Laubies' works at Gallery Alain Margaron in Paris featuring forty works – oils, inks, and watercolours. It runs until March 13, 2010. No fee. Some translated press remarks here and here.
Alain Margaron has done a wonderful job in gathering, preserving and making René Laubies' work accessible to the public. He's the champion Laubies collector, hands down, and we should recognize that and learn from him. Everyone gains through cooperation; but by estranging ourselves we only lose.
When viewing Laubies' oils on coated paper, mounted, or glued on stretched Belgian linen (maroufle sur toile), one should try (if allowed) to examine the backs in order to the see their manner of construction – it's very revealing. The general procedure is known as marouflage. In the past two years I have personally done at least fifty specifically "oil on coated paper" paintings, but I haven't mounted a single work. I'm doubtful if anyone could do it here (in Singapore or Malaysia), which urges me to learn how to do it myself (from who?), or win someone else's expert services. But there's another problem with mounting works: the storage space requirement increases fifty fold. So I keep them in rolls, around ten to a tube.
When painted paper is glued and pressed on tightly stretched canvas (i.e. canvas stretched on a wooden frame) it acquires an altogether firmer support. In 1985 in Kerala, India, René disclosed a few important points to me. "The paintings look different after mounting", he explained, "after that, I sometimes work on them more." He said, "The finished paintings are as tight as a drum" and he grinned like a child as he flicked his finger enjoying the imagined timbre evoked.... So, perhaps one can imagine how charmed I was some twenty years later one cold wet February day in Paris when I held Laubies' well-mounted works in my hands and examined them carefully—front, sides and back. For until that day at Margaron's place, I'd hardly seen a Laubies finished product, only uncropped papers in the semi-finished state—though witnessed on-site at the places where he painted them, in Jaganath Puri and Varkala in India. Each stretched frame, then, has to be built exactly to the size of the painting it supports. Outcomes demonstrate very flush borders.
In René's later period (to my knowledge, at least), the framing and mounting were skilfully performed by Jean Claude Scribe in Paris. In glaring contrast, some early paintings from the 50s and 60s were clumsily mounted and have not withstood the test of time. But don't be surprised when you view the current show and see very early, even pre-Cloudist paintings in stunningly healthy and fit condition. Thank you Alain Margaron!
If I had a place to stay there, I would contemplate flying...
In the life of a painter, the only happy moment is when he paints. Painting finished the annoyances begin. He has to show the painting, submit it to the critics, the merchants and the amateurs, sell it, repurchase it, save it in auction-rooms in extremis. Every painting returns ten times. Like migratory birds they pass from Paris to Milan, from Düsseldorf to New York or Huston, re-traversing the Atlantic where they are bought for nothing and resold very expensively according to the crises, speculation, the art market.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, (from the forward) 2001; trans tharris.
Dans la vie d'un peintre, le seul moment heureux est quand il peint. Le tableau fini les ennuis commencent. Il faut exposer ce tableau, le soumettre aux critiques, marchands, amateurs, le vendre, le racheter, le sauver in-extremis de la salle des ventes. Chaque tableau à été rendu dix fois, comme les oiseaux migrateurs ils passent de Paris à Milan, de Düsseldorf à New York ou Huston, retraversent l'Atlantique, sont achetés pour rien et revendus très cher suivant les crises, la spéculation, le marche de l'art...
The French never love painting and are always dupes: Louis XIV preferred Le Brun to Poussin, and in 1900 one bought the firemen and not the impressionists; in 1930 Matisse is on the same footing as Kisling, Derain and others... They prefer Picasso to Braque and Bonnard. If there were a French art, it's thanks to foreign collectors.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
French critics would want that the dripping of Pollock comes from Masson, whereas it is known that the Chinese of the high time had dipped their hardened hair or their beards in ink, and that they spat. All to reject habitual technique, in wanting to be a simple medium of the "vital breath." It is this simplicity that made great Chinese painting. Ma Yuan [馬遠] (1190) and Bada Shanren* (1630) are the pure abstract ones, because the stain held their interest, not the rock or the boat that the stain may have suggested. The Occident needed to wait for this abstraction, to recover this attitude, this freedom, this "brilliant carelessness", this chance exploit.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris. Note: I have changed Laubies' original spelling Pan Tan Chan Gen for the more standard Bada Shanren.
Les critiques français voudraient que le dripping de Pollock vienne de Masson, alors que l'on sait que les Chinois de la haute époque ont trempé leurs cheveux ou leur barbe dans l'encre, qu'ils ont recrachée. Tout cela pour rejeter l'habilité technique, en se voulant le simple medium du "souffle vital". C'est cette simplicité qui à fait la grande peinture chinoise. Ma YUAN (1190) ou Pan Tan Chan Gen* (1630) sont de purs abstraits, car c'est la tache qui les intéresse et non le rocher ou la barque qu'elle peut suggérer. Il à fallu attendre l'abstraction en Occident pour retrouver cette attitude, cette liberté, ce "laisser-aller génial", ce hasard exploite.
From 1950 to 1960 there was not a day in Paris without quarrels, excommunications, insults between critics, galleries and painters. Julien Alvard having written an article in Art d'Aujourd'hui (Art Today) about Pollock, me and some other disgracefuls, had to leave the review (it's how Cimaise was born). Charles Estienne and Claude Rivière in Combat, defended the Tachistes, the Nuagistes, every Monday. The abstract geometrics saw threats in the "insignificance of informel", and Nina Kandinsky says to Alvard: "But this painting is affrrreux, affrrreux" to the tapping of her diamonds. The deplorable posterity and darling of Monet of the Nymphs overrode [l'emporta sur la suite] the protestant continuation of Mondrian. This will be followed by something no less deplorable than Marcel Duchamp.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
En 50-60 il n'y avait pas un jour à Paris sans querelles, excommunications, injures entres critiques, galeries et peintres. Julien Alvard ayant écrit un article dans Art d'Aujourd'hui sur Pollock, moi et quelques autres scandaleux, dût quitter la revue (c'est ainsi que Cimaise est née). Charles Estienne et Claude Rivière dans Combat, défendaient les tachistes, les nuagistes, tous les lundis. Les abstraits géométriques se voyaient menaces par les "insignifiants de l'informel", dont Nina Kandinsky disait à Alvard : "Mais cette peinture c'est affrrreux, affrrreux" en tapotant ses diamants. La postérité déplorable et chérie du Monet des Nymphéas l'emporta sur la suite protestante de Mondrian. Cette postérité sera suivie par cella non moins déplorable de Marcel Duchamp.
In her gallery, at Duncan's place, one could buy in 1949, for tiny sums, Tanguy, Max Ernst, Dalí, Masson, etc, all the surrealism that she had helped, even financed. She made the first contract between De Chirico and her husband, André Breton (the surrealist ones always married well!). Thanks to her, I am among the Congress for Cultural Freedom, of the magazine "Preuves". Those were my beginnings in Paris.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
Dans sa galerie, chez Duncan, on pouvait acheter en 1949, pour des sommes minimes, Tanguy, Max Ernst, Dalí, Masson, etc., tout le surréalisme qu'elle avait aidé, voire financé. Elle fit le premier contrat à De Chirico avec son mari, André Breton (les surréalistes se sont toujours bien mariés !). Grace à elle je suis entre au Congrès de la Liberté de la Culture, à la revue "Preuves". Ce furent mes débuts à Paris.
"Inside, Outside and Interside" by Lee Soo Hong (Nature Borne sculpture show, Singapore Botanic Gardens)
Might a work of art simply be the refusal to make sense? The liaison between art and play is confirmed. When ripping a tree trunk, what is lost of the circumference but the width of the saw blade? But how many cuts in the horizontal slicing? The piece is then hollowed and the wood of its innards stands to the side as a fabricated long-cut 1 x 3(?) inch stack of sticks transformed into a kind of rectangular nailed-together lattice assemblage, an exposed "black box" (figuratively speaking). What's it for? However, offered no prefabricated model or theory, we're reduced to mental fiddling with less inner purpose. I found it somewhat of an extravagant experiment, but very well worth the performative effort. And in any case, why should an artist be held responsible for the social cost of his private research? But in this way, defending the work's incomprehensibility approaches a kind of admission of love: that they would take it all apart in attempt to understand it! How is one to love something tragically broken?
Is art a perception founded on a premise of the mindlessness of everyday things? I don't think so. One derives from such expansive and adventurous works a vital spirit that is very much akin to what Confucius had to say with regard to "The Creative": that 'things with affinity in their inmost natures seek one another and reverberate together...as the penetrating wind (the breath of earth) romps with the tiger,' i.e. to scatter clouds and brighten emotions and render sentiments clear and serene. For the spectacle of the tenuous and vague contiguity of the inscrutable metamorphosis of meaningless things enlivens people's spirit. How sad were such beautiful play to vanish.
Korean sculptor Lee Soo Hong's unassuming work titled "Inside, Outside and Interside", is a gently penetrating conceptual masterpiece remarkably assessable to lay art viewers – and children too. It was the most appealing item in the Nature Borne show for me. But pardon me for not having snapped some photos (or taken my tape measure). Hurry go see!
"Inside, Outside and Interside", 1997, wood (elm tree) sculpture in two pieces (40 x 160 x 80cm) by Korean artist Lee Soo Hong. "Nature Borne" - A Singapore and Korea Joint Sculpture Exhibition, Singapore Botanic Gardens, on through 27 Dec 2009.
Additional reference: René Thom, At the Boundaries of Man's Power: Play, in SubStance, Vol. 8, No. 4, Issue 25, (1980): 11-19. http://www.jstor.org/pss/3684209
Great Lord, heir to the Eiffel Tower and director of the Louvre. He had taste at the time for ancient arts and modern painting that he collected. His "Asiaticism" made him like my painting: he defended me while noticing that everything always went badly for me: "Even in a desert, you would stumble on a stone! Guard well your stature as accursed painter!"René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
Grand seigneur, héritier de la Tour Eiffel et directeur du Louvre. Il avait du gout à la fois pour les arts anciens et la peinture moderne qu'il collectionnait. Son "asiatisme" lui fit aimer ma peinture : il me défendit tout en remarquant que tout allait toujours mal pour moi : "Même dans un désert, vous trébucheriez sur un caillou ! Gardez bien votre statut de peintre maudit !"
Large nose, tip, thin, "rubbing his hands like the flies" as well, said Jeanne Facchetti. With a flair to convince the billionaires. He introduced American painting in France and spotted the rare interesting painters of Paris. Each time that a painter was introduced to him, he asked: "Is he rich?"René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
Grand nez, boute, maigre, "se frottant les mains comme les mouches" ainsi que le disait Jeanne Facchetti. Avec un flair pour convaincre les milliardaires. Il à introduit la peinture américaine en France et repéré les rares peintres intéressants de Paris. Chaque fois qu'on lui présentait un peintre, il demandait : "Est-il riche ?"
How do these instances of vital sensibility sustain themselves in the ambiance of memory? Why do they impel us, call attention to themselves, as if private graffiti dragged into the lanes of interfaciality and interspatiality? What can be supposed of these collectible emissions as if children who demand to be seen and heard, and who denounce curatorial arts as bollix and play at what they do until their made to be sickened by the groveling Contemporary Arts charade and its growing ranks of Tupperware hosts... What is to be drawn from these ethnographic galleries that analogue an earlier Pre-Modern era when ridiculous breeds of men changed hands on the docks of cosmopolitan boomtown ports?
There is something inherently "minimal" (I would say) to what I tentatively call the Korean "aesthete"; not completely minimal, but deeply ingrained in the fabric and spirit of her aesthetic perception. From where did it come? From centuries of starring at her deftly crafted tea ware with understated fine glaze irregularities, or from the lines of the roofs of her noble apartments? From a fondness for the natural off-coloration and texturation of her Spartan flooring conspicuously stone and in winter time warm, and upon which she places her uncushioned bottom to continue her gaze at the unintended flaws of pigmentation of the celadon teacup cuddled in her hands abstracted and alone? From the tantalizing feel of feather-stuffed silks against her sun reddened cheeks in spring; pressed hempen gossamers of veiled summer shirting...
But this highly inconspicuous line of minamality did not run long to arrive her to her date with the post-Nuagiste devastation. Why? Because a flower of modernity bequeathed an ancient time to her; she never needed a bridge to that.
On November 11, 2009 while viewing a collection of Korean sculpture as a part of the exhibition "Nature Borne" (Singapore Botanic Gardens) my research procedure was suddenly challenged by an altered climate that expressed itself through a new set of prospects that beckoned me to test and broaden my research mandate through observing the inclusion of "interfacialilty" and the manner in which its "primmediacy (無間) of being"* denoted in a spatialized socio-poetic context. Would the apparently fresh theoretical unit effect filtrations of data thereafter? Would it demonstrate results of a novel character? I set about to formulate preliminary findings...
* See Catalogue entry and parallel study notes
I visited the country five or six times in that early period (for visa reasons mainly); each trip granted me new endearments. Pusan was my port of entry and departure but I always wound up in the capital, Seoul, a tinkering city of bric-a-brac scaffolding, lanes and crossroads full of thirsty girls like cats in tea houses skirting smiles as mannequins for everybody tonified standing at ginseng street-stalls. Older folk tended to speak Japanese then. It was an autumn dawn view over wide bending river in the misty light and silent surge of a voiceless people articulate in tears amassing at the outskirts, villages eclipsed by Cold War rouble and gray zone hammering, dance clubs articulate in screams before midnight, drives through anxious Korean army checkpoints high on grass with Leonard Luerus, solders at ready with automatic rifles, Americans, saluting: 'At ease Corporal!'.... Peter Velnik married Yong Hee. Her parents gave a car. In those days if you could afford a car you could afford a driver. Newly weds with new car and driver... Bracing winter mornings Peter still enjoyed the stroll near the quaint little music shop where European classics drifted out into the icy street.... Then a train for the south. She yawned at the doorstep, covering her mouth with a friendly wave, requested permission and led me back through the empty saloon and up a flight of stairs, then went for breakfast of 100 little dishes... "You remember me", she said, "and I'll remember you." That long narrow lane down to Pusan harbour....
On returning from the United States in 1958, I met Italo Magliano at the gallery of Le Noci. Italo had a strong personality; he knew how to communicate his enthusiasm for painting. He animated to convince and overcome. Corso Vercelli, in its art nouveau style, we went from one salon to another: Sironi, De Pisis and Morgandi brought us to Hartung, Fautrier, Tal Coat and Manessier; then one came to the youngest, Laubies, Benrath, Bellegarde, Yves Klein and Manzoni. There was a whole dining room for Fontana (sculptures, ceramics). Italo, true collector, had accumulated enormously the works of Italian and foreign painters. One could find at his place Twombly, Schumacher, and works of the painters still poorly known but whom he made known and recognized. The sum total of life devoted to art... Their children continue taking care of this great collection.René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
En revenant des Etats-Unis en 58, j'ai rencontrée Italo Magliano à la galerie de Le Noci. Italo avait une forte personnalité, il savait communiquer son enthousiasme pour la peinture. Il animait convaincre et vaincre. Corso Vercelli dans un palais liberty, on passait de salons en salons : Sironi, De Pisis, Morandi, amenaient vers Hartung, Fautrier, Tal Coat et Manessier, puis on arrivait vers les plus jeunes, Laubies, Benrath, Bellegarde, Yves Klein et Manzoni. Il y avait une salle à manger entière pour Fontana (sculptures, céramiques). Italo, véritable collectionneur, avait accumule énormément d'œuvres de peinture italienne et étrangère. On pouvait trouver chez lui Twombly, Schumacher, et des peintres encore mal connus qu'il fit connaitre et reconnaître. En somme toute une vie consacrée à l'art… Ses enfants continuent à prendre soin de cette grande collection.
Note: Italo Magliano was a Milanese industrialist and art collector; the first Italian to have purchased Fautrier and Hartung (Martina Corgna, " Fino al 22 luglio a Sondrio mostra sulla pittura francese del dopoguerra raccontata attraverso le collezioni private", newspaper article, La Republica, 09 July 2000 Page 10, Section: Milan. See also "L' elegia della memoria (Corrispondenze con Italo Magliano", text by Angela / Marta Madesani / Locatelli.
On the beach at Nice, Iris [Clert], Yves Klein and me. Iris, to unnerve Yves, doesn't cease complimenting me on my legs. After five minutes, Yves rises: "One goes; I've enough, this sea, this sky. All this blue, it is my blue! I am copied, blue, blue..."René Laubies, Portraits et Aphorismes, 2001; trans tharris.
Sur la plage à Nice, Iris, Yves Klein et moi. Iris pour énerver Yves ne cesse de me complimenter sur mes jambes. Au bout de cinq minutes Yves se lève: "On s'en va, j'en ai assez, cette mer, ce ciel. Tout ce bleu, c'est mon bleu! On me copie, le bleu, le bleu..."
Others have spoken of your work's authentic links to West, South, Southeast and East Asian calligraphic traditions. What then might your paintings themselves have to say to us?
My paintings are the croppings of exultant wandering performed as if life were to carry on forever or, conversely, weren't. Their prefigurative affordances reside in the seductiveness of the very breaches they penetrate and in the uncharted voids they release and articulate. Reading them necessitates a certain type of literacy. You might get a better answer asking them directly. As for any link to "handsome writing", this alludes more to kavya or poetry, I should think.
What is your creative process all about?
Procedural concerns are very clear-cut as they reverberate between and thereby unify self and void as recumbent on their limitless dissolution in the mediating hues of perpetual self-genesis, negotiated analogues to naught and nil.
What about the outcomes or "products" as you call them? How do you see them?
I see them through a kind of hyper-delicacy of exponderate Rococo elucidation; through pervading appliqués horizontally pressed between muted areas of clamor writ large on disassembled templates of wind.
Who, if any, are your inspirations? Are stylistic borrowings detectible in your work?
You allude to derivations, which signifies to me an appeal for calm midst the deafening force of the 'sirens of the atmosphere' colluding all space through sheer cascadence, bending and blending the outcomes of nature.
In your elevated abstract mode of research, originality is relentlessly probed to the point where the notion of willful creation seems to have virtually disappeared. Any fresh comment?
It's a cross between morphing (or permutation) and the adaptation of the native's itinerancy across the savage ground over which he traipses in the course of soothing the symptoms of his muse.
Hmm... That's an interesting media. Are you in touch in any way with alternate or "extra" macrospheric realms?
In plaintive march with the vanishing spirits gliding through the gapes of an interfaciality 'granting no centre, no homeland, no grave' I am rootless and ready, there is nothing in this world.
1. Cf. Michel Foucault on the work of Maurice Blanchot, "toward that whose absolute finespun light has never received language" in Foucault/Blanchot, 1990: 25; 22-45.
2. Cf. Foucault /Blanchot: 24.
I vividly remember as a young escapee from the Gulag of America arriving by boat in the late 1970s to the port of Pusan at the Southeasternmost tip of the Korean Peninsula. I spent the first night in a modest hotel and then boarded a Seoul-bound train the next morning. All that day I gazed out the windows to the frugal midsummer fields and meadows in desiccated shades of yellow and gold... These made me recall van Gogh's impastos of the sun-drenched estates around the town of Arles. In fact, this was the place van Gogh should have come, I thought. Working in among these spirited people, he might have found real success in life...
More than twenty years passed. I wanted to return there, but everybody said you wouldn't recognize the place.
Where is the spirit of those Spartan fields today, I wonder. How to uncover, study and woo the angel of Korea's post-Cloudist transformation? "Clouds (the breath of heaven) follow the dragon..." (Confucius)
salvos gong in drying mud the wind refreshed and hammer mute
Or, THE DEATH OF THE RENÉ LAUBIES ESTATE COLLECTION
It finally dawns on me how sadly disappointing and counter-productive the exécuteur testamentaire of the René Laubies Estate Collection has turned out to be.
What would be the essential aims of maintaining an artist's estate?
- To preserve and protect the original properties,
- To acquire additional relevant works and facilities,
- To make certain that the assets of the entire estate flourish
One autumn – it must have been 1985 or 6 – leading up to our winter meeting in Varkala, I wrote to René from Bangkok and asked him to bring me a French novel. When he got to Varkala he handed me a novel of DH Lawrence, "The White Peacock." I was disappointed. He said French novels were never translated well into English. I didn't read it. I should read it now!
I remember in the autumn of 1989 when staying with René in his Paris flat. He complained about having to be a literary judge for a certain "young French writers competition." It was a result of his winning the Fénéon Prize in 1954 that René was more or less required to be a judge. He told me how hard it was to read all the novels, and related how the woman who chaired the award jury would phone him and insist that he read them all. But he never read them all, he told me, only parts.
I had only then recently become aware of the art-critical term "Minimalism" – mainly in reference to painting and music. "Could there be a minimalist novel?" I asked René. He considered the question and suggested, "Yes..."
When in Paris in February 2008, I spoke with gallery owner Michel Broomhead who related to me, "Of all the art critics that [Laubies] knew, René esteemed Pierre Restany above all."
To live for the moment (as if that were sufficient) and allow the given to sway ones attention to the pleasures of the wind over sweat-laced bodies on silent beaches kissed by tides; to subsist on nothing and breathe thin air as droplets filtered through evanescent cloud streams - this is what we call Nuagisme.
In "In Plaintive March with the Vanishing Spirits" (Malacca, 2006) I decoded the ancient practice of alms bowl walking as something that was far more aesthetic than ascetic - something quintessential to "ascetic art." It was a sculpting installation of poetic movement - a muted recital of grimy footfall in plaintive march with the vanishing spirits as elapsing in the crumbling facade and veneer of a celebrated Asian townscape.
Self-Ridicule (manga), ca 1986,
Desert Spring (available on request).
In starting to discuss the present work, we are immediately confronted by a dearth of terms insufficient to expound a highly poetic contemporary painting born in the crevasses of cultural hybridity and nourished in the no man's lands of ascetic transmutation. How to take up this exhilarating challenge and crack the artist's liminal appeal when standard terminology so deeply disappoints us? Here's a suggestion. Assume a pre-existing Cloudist dictum and see what can be mined to explain the subject in a manner that eludes any convoluted reading of the stain of sliding cloud and sea.
I find it curious that the deep southern reach of the Malaya Peninsula constitutes the sole amphiscian zone across the entire Eurasian super-continent. In that torrid, tropical sun-drenched tract one encounters scores of basal registries strewn as arcs in chance arrangement: scuttled boats half-buried on a riverbank, driftwood drying on curves of beach; scattered whitecaps flagging the gaze to the hazy forms of offshore islands floating like clouds on the distant horizon. And soaked in the torrid midday sun that relentlessly elutriates the baleful intimations of these proximal devices smidged together through the supplication of quiet tides; one senses the plunge of sky-blue screens as lambent veils of spatial buoyancy. And one nimbly abides there to better intervene upon, lighten and extend the emotive schema that discerns exquisite tragic text by the polished hue of its lithic dross awash in the variegated surge of enchantment splashing pure on the shorelines of perception...
What I witness may more accurately be described as a scattered but insistent urge to assert a multiplicity of latent or half-forgotten processes, sentiments or forms that are superbly free of so-called Western historiological development—an analytical modeling that needs to be abandoned, i.e., as based on the coloring or performative embellishment of an implacable array of irrelevant exdogenous operations that, despite an abiding constructural nearness, in essence neither foils nor influences the given procedurality.
I find it very curious that the deep southern reach of the Malaya Peninsula constitutes the sole amphiscian zone across the entire Eurasian super-continent. And there in that tropical sun-drenched tract one encounters scores of basal registries strewn as arcs in chance arrangement, scuttled boats half-buried on the riverbank, driftwood drying on curves of beach, scattered whitecaps flagging the gaze to hazy forms of offshore isles that float like clouds on the distant horizon. And soaked in the torrid midday sun that relentlessly elutriates the baleful intimations of these proximal devices smidged together through the supplication of quiet tides; one senses the plunge of sky-blue screens as lambent veils of spatial buoyancy. And one nimbly abides there to better intervene upon, lighten and extend the emotive schema that discerns exquisite tragic text by the polished hue of its lithic dross awash in the variegated surge of enchantment splashing pure on the shorelines of perception...