The contemplative researcher lives aloof from society, a silent and unseen example it would seem. How is he to share his refined sensitivities, his ascetic and indeed aesthetic findings in ways that reveal their hidden purpose? (The Sritantra Project)

Assembling notes around Paul Facchetti

We would like to assemble some scattered notes in homage to Paul Facchetti (b. 1912). The spur of this account is very recent news that this exceedingly rare photographer and artist continues to flourish in Paris. We first came to learn of Paul Facchetti in the initial phase of my bio- art-historical investigation of nonfigurative painter René Laubiès (1922-2006). In the process of establishing an early working contextual framework, we configured some notes titled "Pound, Laubiès, Alvard, Facchetti" (Sep. 2007). Even then, in the very inchoate stages of our research we had publicly appealed for clues on how to get in touch with Paul Facchetti. It was fortunate for me that someone responded, and the heartfelt concern and information provided soon led us to embark on a strenuous month-long fieldwork project in and around Palakunnu village, that southern Indian seaside community where René Laubiès spent the final five extended winters of his life. It was late October 2006 when René arrived on his final call there. That visit however proved tragically short. After only nine days, on Nov 2, he entered Wenlock Government Hospital in the nearby city of Mangalore. Eleven days later on Nov 13, René expired.

During our month-long research in India we spoke with three broad sets of informants: 1) local villagers who were privy to Laubiès' various pastimes, 2) western travellers who knew René in that roughly six-year period of winters, and 3) administrators, doctors and other health care workers associated with the elderly patient during his eleven-day residence at Wenlock Government Hospital, Mangalore.

In the later part of February 2008, we received an endowment in the form of an air ticket, Singapore–Paris–Singapore, for the sake of expanding my research. We visited Paris from Feb 24 to Mar 24, 2008. A major objective in going to Paris was obviously to meet Paul Facchetti. We tried our best but failed to meet him, and place the blame on our own ill resolve and lack of French. Yet not unsurprisingly, numerous people when learning of our project had consistently asked if we had met Paul Facchetti. "We're trying our best!" Still, nobody offered to arrange a first meeting. Yet after speaking to various colleagues, we became more aware of Paul Facchetti's immense historical significance, not merely through his long association with Laubiès, but by his own individual achievements far more.

It was ultimately Mr. Castor SEIBEL, art critic and collector who more then anyone else in Paris beseeched us to go and meet Paul Facchetti. "Before it is too late!" he dramatically implored. "Do you know if he's still alive?" he asked. "Yes" we replied, "A person we know just talked to him on the phone. He lives in the States but flew to Paris when he knew we wee in Paris. We're supposed to meet tomorrow for lunch."

* * *
Ten weeks after returning from Paris we became the beneficiary of a data reception that after a kind of analytical re-structuration confirmed Paul Facchetti as the consummate Mid-Twentieth to Early Twenty-first Century global art-historical patriarch. But a fundamental point that we need to bear in mind is that Paul is now 96 years of age. According to reports, he is physically frail but on the road to recovery from a tumble that he suffered earlier in the year. Reports speak further to his state of mind as effervescent, lucid and indomitable.

Let us halfway sum up here. It was only from the point of meeting Castor Seibel at Galerie Di Meo, rue des Beaux-Arts that we began to fathom the immense importance of meeting and speaking with Paul Facchetti. Our deepening research on the life and work of René Laubiès discloses all the more that Facchetti represents a living spring of crucial art-historical data. Paul Facchetti was among Laubiès' earliest supporters in the 50s in Paris, and his Galerie Facchetti was the first to exhibit a selection of Laubiès' work. In his Portraits et Aphorismes (2001), René gives expression to the admiration that he held for his long-time friend and colleague. The pithy accolade is especially marked when weighed against the general balance of the text as contained in the limited Italian edition wherein otherwise René does nothing but expose his famous blend of comic wit and venomous tongue.

See René's brief portrait of Facchetti here.
See also Fautrier, Seibel, Facchetti, Le Noci, Magliano.

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