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Artist Spotlight | Raymond Debiève
Born into a world caught between wars, Raymond Debiève spent the earliest years of his life in Maubeuge, France alongside his twin brother, Michel. From their earliest days in the 1930s, both brothers displayed interest in pencils, shapes, understanding lines on paper or the patchwork designs of kitchen tiles. Encouraged by their father, Emile, they created together until La Deuxième Guerre Mondiale. World War II.
Their father was killed early in the war, and the twins were separated until 1944 when their mother, Madeleine, remarried a man who likewise chose to encourage the boys’ artistic abilities with their first boxes of paint, easels, and palettes. Together once more, Raymond and Michel would go on to study successfully at the Beaux-Arts in Valenciennes, and explore several other mediums including metal sculpture, enamel, jewelry design, clay modeling, and stained glass which populates several churches across Northern France.
Yet in spite of this success and their continued encouragement, neither young artist could forget those earliest years spent in a torn country, nor the devastation wrought after the second great war was through. Raymond’s work, in particular, chases these themes—the color and brilliance surrounding his established atelier in Provence, alongside the labor and deep-rooted pain through which he came into the world reborn around him.
Raymond’s lifetime spans across artistic trends such as art deco, cubism, abstraction, and follows techniques by Picasso, Van Gogh, Velasquez, and bold Flemish painters. As such, he was never afraid to experiment with style or medium, nor to examine an eclectic blend of subject matter from portraits to interior scenes, landscapes to daily snapshots of life.
Debiève’s style, in turn, is at once sharp, critical, highly amused by the world, and frustrated—an ever-revolving lens crafted during the fragile reconstruction of a country flattened by war, and a lifetime observing the humanity involved in repairing what was so brutally destroyed.
I came across our own collection of original pieces completely by chance in September, 2022, at a brocante in Provence. Delicate, playful, moody, and wondrous, these pieces of artwork are beautifully rendered in watercolor, gouache, and pastels, crossing mediums and subject matter to yield a unique collection ready for the home of any art savant.