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 recognise 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 we have personally done at least fifty specifically "oil on coated paper" paintings, but we haven't mounted a single work. We're doubtful if anyone could do it here (in Singapore or Malaysia), which urges us to learn how to do it ourselves (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 we keep them roled up in cardboard tubes, around ten to a tube.
When painted paper is glued and pressed on tightly stretched canvas (i.e. canvas stretched on a stretcher or 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 we were some twenty years later on a cold wet February day in Paris when we held Laubies' well-mounted works in our hands and examined them carefully—front, sides and back. For until that day at Margaron's place, we had hardly seen a single finished Laubies product, only uncropped papers in the semi-finished state, though witnessed on-site where he painted them in 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 stunning condition. Thank you Alain Margaron!
If we had a place to stay there we would contemplate flying...