Mayeu Passa Biography

Mayeu Passa





Mayeu Passa was born in Provence in 1921. A self-taught painter, Passa credits an early encounter with Henri Matisse, working at his easel in Porquerolles, with inspiring him to pursue art. Perhaps due to his lack of formal training, Passa's work was at first rejected by the usual French art critics, and poor health kept him from traveling in the way that many of his contemporaries would. After a lengthy hospitalization at the St. Hilaire de Touvet care center, he moved with his wife Mathilde to Le Terasse in the Grésivaudan region. There, he worked from an isolated studio in Le Lachat and garnered the title of the "old owl" due to his solitary pursuit of art and poetry.

Despite garnering little recognition for his fine art, he continued to paint while also taking work as a graphic artist, creating lithographic posters for local cultural events. Friends Jacqueline and Yves Chapron, with connections to the international art world, eventually encouraged him to show his works to collectors in the U.S. This led to a write-up in the New York Times, which kickstarted the late-life recognition of Passa as a fine artist and he soon began exhibiting in New York, Tokyo, and Paris. It was a brief lived fame however, as he died on his return from a show in Paris in 1991.

A large retrospective of his work was held at the chapel of Le Terasse in 2007.