At a very young age, Rebeyrolle developed tuberculosis of the bones, which forced him to remain immobile for long periods. He made drawings to pass the time while his parents, who were both elementary school teachers, taught him to read and write. In October 1944, after earning his baccalauréat in philosophy, he headed north to Paris on “the first Liberation train.” There he discovered the works of his contemporaries Soutine and Picasso, as well as those of Rubens and Rembrandt. Throughout his life he would ceaselessly draw on the lessons he learned during those memorable years.
This sculpture echoes the “kingdom of the blind” series of paintings that Rebeyrolle executed in 1987. His rough-hewn depiction of this human figure devoid of distinctive attributes gives it a kind of universal character akin to that of his paintings. It shows a bust of a man from the shoulders up, with a right arm emerging from its round lump. The man’s hand holds an eyeball, which he is putting into his mouth—a paradoxical act since it deprives him of his sense of sight. This work, a sort of allegory on the theme of voluntary blindness, is emblematic of Rebeyrolle’s concern with creating awareness.
© Estate of Paul Rebeyrolle / SOCAN (2020)