Gaston Sebire French, 1920-2002 Landscape with figures Oil on canvas 31 by 41 ½ in. With frame 38 by 48 ½ in. Signed lower right Gaston Sebire (1920 – 2002) Gaston Sebire, was one of Europe’s leading landscapists, was born in the village of Saint-Samson in Normandy in 1920. A self taught artist, he began to paint seriously at the age of eighteen. For eight years he worked as a postal clerk in the Rouen, sorting letters at night in order to support his career as a painter. In 1952 Gaston Sebire had his first exhibition at the Galerie Gosselin in Paris. The following years he enjoyed the double triumph of winning both the coveted Prix de la Critique and the Prix Casa Velasquez. The Latter award made it possible for him to spend a year and a half in Spain. Of this formative period he said, “They were my first, wonderful years without worry. For fifteen years I had never known what the next day would bring.” The year 1957 marked another important stage in his career. His painting “La Dinde” won the Greenshields Prize in a field of 136 competitors, making it possible for him to paint for another two years without the worry of finances. Winning the awards naturally drew public attention to the artist from Normandy, and his works were presented in highly successful one-man shows in Paris. Sebire was a Norman, a man strongly attached to the soil, and after his exhibitions in Paris, he returned to Rouen to his large house overlooking the town and once again plunged into painting the countryside. Gaston Sebire was a strongly built man with square hands and a rather heavy walk. He had immense vitality, and used that to his advantage. As he said of himself, “When the snow falls, I can’t stay indoors. I set out with my paint box. I paint outdoors from nine in the morning until five at night. If it were only a question of money, one could just as well paint in one’s own room.” But Sebire went into the countryside, or into the village, and sets up his easel. When there is a café into which people are going; there is a fence, a telegraph pole, a few buildings in the background. The scene takes on life, vivid life, with a sense of some event about to take place in the scene. Like many artists, and like a typical Norman, Sebire was silent and solitary by nature, with a personality as strong and Frank as his paintings. A painting, he says, “must have an element of mystery, show an effort to look beyond the aura surface of things.” Sebire’s early paintings were somber with much use of black and white tones. In 1970 he turned to colour. The subtle light of the Normandy skies; the shifting light and color along the seacoast; the magnificent blues of the Rouen pottery in which he had often places the flowers he paints, pointing up vivid tones with gray backgrounds — all these give free range to his colorful palette. In the canvases there is an interplay of color which allows certain tones to flash like gold-dust in a stream, or like a miniature fireworks display. But the solid sense of construction developed in his earlier, darker canvases remained as the firm underpinning of his mature work. The art critic Pierre Imbourg summed up Sebire’s paintings, noting, “He shows us the profound richness of life and nature. His still lifes, his flowers, his marines filled with strength and sobriety, are all overflowing with eloquence.” Gaston Sebire exhibits regularly in Paris, Germany, England and in the United States. (at Wally Findlay Galleries since 1965 ) and also regularly in Paris in the Salon D’Automne, the Salon des Independants, and the Salon de Tuileries which in recent years has been known as the Ecole de Paris. American collectors have accepted his work with enthusiasm. One of his paintings has been purchased by the University of Wisconsin for its permanent collection. Both a realist and a visionary, Sebire was part of the reaction against the long dominance of Cubism and abstract art. His work marked a return to figurative painting which has vitality, imagination and beauty. Provenance: Wally Findlay Galleries Private Collection New York Le Trianon Fine Art & Antiques Art S158.
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