Does one of the reasons for Régis Chabal's choice of painting as a career lie in his childhood? His father studied at the School of Fine Arts but had to take over at the head of the family's large business, and his mother was a woman of very sound artistic taste. Both were friends with many painters and artists, whom they always made very welcome.  His eye and spirit, filled with this beauty in which he bathed, undoubtedly gave him the idea that one day he could join these artists, and that painting would be his world. Yet this journey towards the birth of his vocation would happen gradually.

He started drawing as a teenager, encouraged by Yves Brayer.

After secondary education, in 1954 he was accepted at the School of Fine Arts, in Louis Arretche's Workshop, where he would study architecture for five years.

In 1959 he changed direction and focused on painting: he became a pupil of Yves Brayer at the "Grande Chaumière". The following year he took part in the group exhibition at the "Grande Chaumière".

In 1962, he decided to devote himself exclusively to painting. From then on, he would constantly be guided by the desire to learn all about his craft. Throughout his life, he would strive to achieve mastery of his art with humility and passion.

Still in 1962, he presented his first individual exhibition in Paris, at the "Galerie des Orfèvres", and I remember the stir that this shy, handsome young artist caused with the vigour of his large paintings, which erupted with light on the picture rails on which they hung.

The exhibitions piled up and at the same time, he took every chance to perfect his skills: after an invitation from the Fine Arts Institute in Antwerp, he would go on to work in François Bret's Workshop in Marseille, then at the Cimiez Academy in Nice with Fontana Rosa. With the same thirst for discovery, he would later meet Japanese painters with whom he would exhibit his work.

He would explore the widest variety of techniques throughout his entire career: drawing, watercolour, engraving, lithography, silkscreen printing, tapestry cartoons... He was keen to find out the best way to highlight the profound truth of a character or a landscape.

He would also travel a lot: Spain, Greece, Italy, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, as well as the Cévennes (where his family were from), Collioure, Brittany... Each trip enriched his palette and deepened his gaze.

At the same time, as a theorist he explored the work of the Impressionists, the Cubists, Picasso, and above all Cézanne, who influenced him greatly: he showed the importance of light in a painting, the role of the colour white that circulates throughout the whole painting and becomes a shadow itself...On several occasions, he expanded on his thoughts at widely documented conferences.

During this period he painted numerous variations on Mont Gaussier and the rocks of Les Baux, far from any anecdotal interpretation, restoring their majesty and their sometimes tragic beauty. With great sobriety yet also with brilliance, he offers us the spectacle of Provence's countryside in the changing seasons...

For while Régis Chabal was enriched by everything he saw on his travels, Provence was the place where he chose to stay and where he succeeded in extracting the essence from all his experiences and nourishing his work with it, this land with which he is sometimes in tension, but most often in harmony, and which he is able to show us in all its authentic light and shade.

Although he has now passed away, his legacy of light and beauty lives on.

Jacqueline Leroy
Conservateur général honoraire




Régis Chabal died in 2010 aged 80 years of age.

Download the biography of Régis Chabal ( In french )