Simon Lee Gallery has announced the representation of the estate of French artist Oliver Debré. The first exhibition of works by Debré will take place at the gallery’s London space in June 2023 and will coincide with Signes, a ballet inspired by a series of Debré’s abstract tableaux, running from 19th June to 16th July 2023 at Opéra Bastille, Paris.
Olivier Debré was born in Paris, France in 1920 and died in Paris, France in 1999. Born into a family of doctors and politicians, Debré defied expectations by joining the Paris Ecole des Beaux-Arts to study architecture under Le Corbusier. It was from this formal training in architecture that he developed his sophisticated understanding of space and light. Debré’s early work was influenced by a range of artistic movements and traditions, from Cubism to Japanese calligraphy. It wasn’t until the early 1960s that the artist began to explore the relationships between nature, colour and emotion, tentatively venturing into lyrical abstraction – the movement with which he would come to be most associated.
Painting outdoors to fully immerse himself in the landscape, the next four decades saw Debré work to express the emotional experience of natural phenomena and the outside world; a pursuit that he termed ‘fervent abstraction’. Through vivid colour fields and expansive canvases intersected by gestural forms, Debré began to dissolve divisions between one’s sensory experience of the natural world and its expression on canvas. Alongside his painting practice, Debré produced several stage sets for theatres including the Hong Kong Opera, Opéra national de Paris, Parisian Comédie Française, Shanghai Opera House and Théâtre des Abbesse.
About the artist
Olivier Debré was born in Paris, France in 1920 and died in Paris, France in 1999. Born into a family of doctors and politicians, in 1939 he defied expectations and joined the Paris Ecole des Beaux-Arts to study architecture under Le Corbusier. It was from this formal training in architecture that he developed his sophisticated understanding of space and light, going on to become a central figure of French lyrical abstraction. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held in France, Belgium, Algeria, Mexico, Japan, China and Brazil, amongst others, at institutions including Musée d’Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium (2011); Musée National d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Alger, Algeria (2010); Centre Georges-Pompidou, Paris, France (2003); Museum of Modern Art/ Kamakura, Japan (1998) and Museum of Modern Art/ Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1997). His work has been included in group exhibitions at institutions such as Museo Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain (2019); Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, France (2012) and National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan (1993) amongst others.