Roger Bezombes, French (1913 - 1994)

Roger Bezombes

(b Paris, 17 Jan 1913). French painter, sculptor, medallist and designer. He studied in Paris, at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and was much influenced by his friendship with Maurice Denis. He worked principally as a painter, adopting the saturated colours of Henri Matisse in landscapes and figure studies often based on observation of 'exotic' cultures, notably Mediterranean and North African. In the mid-1960s a new rawness emerged in his work, derived from 'primitive' examples and new materials associated with his experiments in other media. He executed tapestry designs for Aubusson, posters (winning the Grand Prix de l'Affiche Fran?aise in 1984), costumes and sets for ballets at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, reliefs and murals. In 1965 he took up medal-making, expressing in his numerous metallic works for the Paris Mint that obsession with found objects which is also evident in his large-scale sculpture and in his posters.

Bezombes was a student at the Ecole des Beaux beginning in 1934. In 1936, he was the recipient of a prize which sent him to Africa, and he was the recipient of the Grand Prix artists' prize in Rome in the same year. Bezombes was also a follower of the influential artist Maurice Denis, and his work began to refer heavily to artists such as Gaugin, Van Gogh, and Matisse. He won the Hallmark Prize in 1949 and the Grand Prix National in 1946. Bezombes was an inveterate traveler, using his travels to influence the style and
subject matter of his work. In the 50s, he traveled to Belgium, Germany, Italy, Greece, Crete, Israel, North Africa, and the United States. As of 1954, he became a teacher at the prestigious Academie Julian in Paris. Bezombes works were regularly exhibited in Paris at the Salon d'Automne, the Salon des Artistes Independants, and the Tuileries. He consistently exhibited at many international group exhibtions, for which he very often received prizes for his work. Some of thesme include Cairo (1937), Copenhagen (1938), Geneva and New York (1939), Bucharest, Sofia and Athens (1940), Istanbul and Ankara (1941), Lisbon and Barcelona (1942), and Valence and Rio de Janeiro (1945). It is no wonder then, that his work is beloved across the world for its powerful and inimitable

Bezombes also had many solo exhibitions in Paris and elsewhere, including at the prestigious galeries Galerie Charpentier and Galerie Andre Weil. At the same time, he was constantly involved in public art projects such as the decoration of the Chapel at the Church of Sacre Coeur de la Corneuve (1940-41). Bezombes was the definition of the "French artist" as we know it today: passionate, driven, and always involved. These qualities are abundantly evident in his art, and for that reason Bezombes' work continues to be highly desired and collected in France and abroad, especially since his death in 1994.

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