Gabriel Paris

Born in 1924 - France


Gabriel Paris was a French painter. He was born in 1924 in Alès (France) and died in Paris in 2000. He was from a military family (father, brothers and sister) but he was interested in art and poetry, and studied architecture at the Beaux-Arts in Paris. Then he was admitted to the advanced classes at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinématographiques in Paris and he graduated as a Set Designer when he was 25.

He worked as a set designer until 1968 when for participating in the events that took place in May, in Paris, which made it impossible for him to continue collaborating with the French TV stations. Meanwhile he started painting and created "la jeune estampe" in the 1950s with Mario Avati (painter and printmaker) among others. During the following 3 years his work was exhibited at the Gallery Le soleil dans la tête in Paris, wih Bernard Rancillac. He also participated at the most important art fairs of the time : Autumn, Comparaisons, Mai, Independent Fair, Grands et jeunes d’aujourd’hui.

His work was quickly straying far from contemporary art trend, displaying at the same time influences from painters such as Seurat, Bonnard, Desnoyer, from Surrealism and Impressionism, to find a particular path, creating different alphabets to invent a poetic typography which can be identified throughout his practice. The association between painting and poetry was the main idea of his work.

From 1961 on, he designed and created artist’s books in his Parisian studio. He illustrated texts from Queneau, Mallarmé, Michel Leiris, Jules Laforgues, Edmond Rostand, each time creating a new artwork, interpreting each page, inventing and putting together illustrations and typography in hand-colored lithographs or original etching made individually. From 1968 he exhibited these works in some prestigious bookshops, as the famous Fischbacher Gallery, notably his masterpiece about bullfighting, "Abanico para los Toros", based on texts by Michel Leiris. He exhibited his books again in 1984.

In May 1968 he took an active role alongside the students and the protesters and created a series of amazing handmade posters (signed and numbered) that reflected the time and its events. These artworks were among the very few made at this very special period between May and July of 1968. They constitute a rare testimony, artistic, historical and militant, whose themes are still relevant today.

After 1968, as he couldn't work in the TV and cinema industry anymore, Gabriel Paris dedicated himself exclusively to painting. But his resources were very few because "he had a old style attitude and stayed in a state of bohemia, considering painting as an enjoyable exercise, without thinking about movements and styles, tyranny of the medias, refusing to remain a prisoner of the system which build the reputations..." (Jean-Jacques Lévêque). In order to complete his project of books or littles series of lithographs, he worked for subscribers who helped him cover the manufacturing costs, in exchange for an artwork. Very often money was tight and the projects could not be completed for several years.

While continuing to paint, Gabriel Paris created litographs, linocuts drawings, engravings, etchings etc. His first seascapes and landscapes were actually interpretations of his paintings, revealing a rich palette and wild colours and "a profound but pure sensuality" (Robert Ariès).

He produced mainly limited series of original works in which he displays his subtle and poetic typographic style, in colorful compositions, very modern in their drawing style and treatment. The first series, "the monuments of Paris", presents the Montmartre district. Its strength is astonishing by the lines and the colors and still makes sense in our modern society overwhelmed by images. His next series, some of them completely amazing, had subjects such as industrial chemistry or brands, but they gave free rein to the artist's imagination to turn these rather off-putting subjects into explosions of humor.

Gabriel Paris left behind an extraordinary body of work, consisting of 1800 engravings, a dozen artist’s book and almost fifty paintings, which show, better than words, the talent of this unique painter.

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