Author: Michel Déon (1919 - 2016)
Artist: Olivier Debré (1920 - 1999)
Publisher: André Biren
Olivier Debré, who produced the illustrations for Déon's Avant-jour, will not let himself be pigeonholed. Artistically, he is highly versatile, with multiple predilections. Besides being a landscape painter, he is also a theatrical set designer, sculptor, draftsman, engraver and lithographer. Not only does Debré work on paper or canvas, but he also uses immense walls. His painted work includes the stage curtain of the Comédie française. As the grandson of the prominent portrait painter Edouard Debat-Ponsan and the second cousin of Jules Garnier, the architect of l'Opéra de Paris, his versatility is hardly surprising. His many talents, and especially his eye for colour and space, enabled him to exhibit his work on a regular basis.
Spatiality and order are central to his work. 'My paintings are structured by rhythm, for rhythm is what creates space.' (Ma peinture est structurée par le rythme, car c'est le rythme qui engendre l'espace), as he said in an interview. This point is evident in Avant-jour; in the four engravings, Déon succeeds in creating a fossil-like depth and relief by providing the monochrome with subtle nuances.