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.
The canvas Obviously, which belongs to his “kingdom of the blind” series, clearly conveys the bitter vision of the world that informs Rebeyrolle’s work. Here we see a character with a gaping mouth and imagine a cry of pain emanating from it. His hands frame his eye sockets, which are black and empty; his eyeballs stare up from the table in front of him. Rebeyrolle sought to raise awareness with this allegory of human blindness.
© Estate of Paul Rebeyrolle / SOCAN (2020)