The artist Pierre Albasser gradually moved from postal art to drawing on packaging with pencils, ink and felt-tips. But not just any cardboard and not just any felt-tip pens !
Artistes Actuels has been following his work for several years. In 2022, we finally visited him at home. He opened his archives to us, held by his wife, with rigor and kindness, the artist GEHA.
I started drawing when I was 56 and I’m 85 now.
Pierre Albasser, a start with "scribbles" !
More than 30 years ago, I would frequently doodle on papers while waiting for my wife. She encouraged me to draw seriously. I started on envelopes because she was herself a postal artist.
One day my drawings were noticed by Gérard Sendrey (founder of the Musée de la Création Franche in Bègles) who invited me to take part in a first exhibition in 1998 : that’s the way I got involved in singular art.
During this first exhibition, I almost got angry with Gérard because I didn’t want to put any price on my drawings. He forced me to put prices on them !
Pierre Albasser, the art of recycling
My drawings reflect my wife’s and my life because I only use what we buy. By drawing on the back of packaging, you can just turn my drawings to see what we consume or what we have had as an illness !
The colours come from the shop “Bureau Vallée” in La Rochelle. They have a plastic bag in the shop and customers can put used ink cartridges or markers in it. In my garage, I have more than 10 kilos waiting for me !
Pierre Albasser creates in partnership with his wife GEHA
Pierre Albasser is very proud of the fact that he works in partnership with his wife, the artist GEHA (read about GEHA)
“I draw every day, usually in the afternoon. Every evening I present a new drawing to my wife. We are a pair. She is the one who classifies, judges and sorts out what deserves to be photographed or not.
GEHA helps Pierre Albasser to avoid taking the easy way out. She is on guard against the temptation of easy filling or what she calls “pyjama stripes”.
Sometimes, “he doesn’t have the strength or the energy and you can feel it in his drawings”. In these situations, she does not hesitate to push him “to make him progress”.
Although Pierre Albasser mainly paints on upturned packaging, he also works with other materials that inspire him. Pebbles, ceramic dishes and, more recently, ostrich eggs, of which he has produced some very beautiful series.
As the shapes change, faces, characters or strange animals appear, often intertwined.
Although the artist sometimes paints in black and white, it is mostly in colour that he expresses himself. He may use one, two or three colours. In more complex compositions, he uses up to ten.
There is something of Jean-Joseph Sanfourche in some of Pierre Albasser’s faces.
PIerre Albasser, a very special publisher
Another activity of Pierre Albasser with his wife GEHA is to publish small accordion books : (to create would be more accurate because here there is no ISBN or printing. Each one is a unique work of art, handmade by the “éditions banales”.
These books begin with a small text between poetry and a wink. Each book develops a theme, shape or colour.
No printing, no ISBN for “éditions banales”
Pierre Albasseur, a committed artist
For the eighth time, Pierre Albasser will illustrate an issue of the magazine “Santé mentale”. The issue planned for summer 2021 include 21 drawings by Pierre Albasser, including one for the cover.
This publication is the monthly magazine for psychiatric care teams. It combines a certain form of popularisation with theoretical and practical rigour. It thus allows laymen to discover the field of mental health and the most accomplished professionals to enrich their practices.
The journal is characterised by a rich iconography. Pierre Albasser’s contribution supports the writing and the clinical commitment of the publication.
photos credit : Pierre Albasser, Geha et Artistes Actuels team