A Montalbanian figure, Jacques Chaubard, known by his nickname “Babar”, gave colors to all the objects he touched. The disappearance of the brilliant “handyman of happiness” to which the Mémo had devoted an exhibition in 2014 causes the sadness of his many friends.
A few days ago, Jacques Chaubard left us. His friends, in particular Maurice Baux and Daniel Piquemal, wanted to pay tribute to him through these few lines.
“Autumn 1929, Jacques Chaubard was born in Montauban. He is given the unusual but affectionate nickname of “Babar”. Curious about everything, Babar discovers the world in the footsteps of a storekeeper father, skilled handyman, fisherman on the Tarn or Tescou, and a great collector of postcards. It is by exploring this paternal fund of several tens of thousands of postcards that Babar feeds his imagination and develops a formidable visual memory. This cartophile collection will remain his only encyclopedia.
Employed for 30 years at Capelle furniture
It was at the age of 12 that he learned the active life, “in the ass of the cows” which he was entrusted with keeping. Then, he alternated between various handling jobs in factories, plants and other Montalban sites. Leather, textiles, clay, iron are all materials that he learns to shape in sometimes harsh working conditions. His adventure with wood began at the age of 30, when he joined the small production team at Meubles Capelle. He left it 30 years later when, with its 300 employees, it had become one of the jewels of Montalban’s economy. Winter 1989, for Babar the hour of retirement has come. The man finds himself in a small apartment under the roof. He has time, energy, a good temperament.
He tinkered with happiness
Also, during the years that followed, he assisted second-hand dealers and collectors, we often see him at the antique dealer, Jean-Claude Péries, also in the company of the sculptor Flavio De Faveri. At the same time, in the early 2000s, Babar began to create without constraints, to tinker with objects, models or paintings in the colors of his life.
The artist of boxes and assemblies, Paul Duchein, notices his creations and encourages his approach without trying to influence or orient him. Autumn 2007, summer 2008 we discover his work around the halls of the Ingres Museum and under the arcades of the Place Nationale.
So, Babar creates, invents shows, responds to all requests for sharing and exchange. His creations astonish, move, soothe, indifferent or amuse, but leave no one indifferent. On a daily basis, Babar tinkers with joys as he liked to point out.
Spring 2014, the Mémo de Montauban organizes a major exhibition “Babar handyman of happiness”. Winter 2016, the Crier’s House exhibits “Les bouillottes à Babar”. Autumn 2018, having become a resident of the Protestant retirement home, he will offer the establishment and all his friends a moving retrospective of his unique work. It was in this benevolent setting that he died just before summer.
Babar translated his smile and his good humor into a universal language, that of his sincere, simple and colorful art.
Thank you for the lesson of life and hello the artist who joins another character of singular art, just as endearing, Armand Taillé known as “Armand” who died a few years ago. From now on, the colors of “Babar” rub off into the afterlife. »