Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Somerset BA3 4RJ, England
28 Rue Serpente, 75006 Paris, France
University of Paris
Initially, Brion attended Downside School in Stratton-on-the-Fosse, England, a prestigious college, run by the Benedictines. In 1934, he entered the University of Paris (Sorbonne), where he studied La Civilisation Française, an open course.
In 1935, Brion Gysin had his first exhibition at the Galerie Quatre Chemins in Paris together with Ernst, Picasso, Hans Arp, Hans Bellmer, Victor Brauner and other artists.
In 1946, after serving in the United States army during World War II, Gysin published a biography of Josiah "Uncle Tom" Henson, titled "To Master, a Long Goodnight: The History of Slavery in Canada". Some time later, in 1950, the painter moved to Tangier, Morocco with novelist and composer Paul Bowles.
In 1954, in Tangier, Gysin opened a restaurant, named "The 1001 Nights" together with his friend Mohamed Hamri, who was the cook. In 1958, Gysin lost the business and the restaurant closed permanently. The same year, Brion returned to Paris, taking lodgings in a flophouse. During that time, Gysin discovered a Dada technique and he also collaborated with his friend William Burroughs on a large manuscript for Grove Press titled "The Third Mind".
In 1961, together with Ian Sommerville, Gysin built the Dreamachine (a stroboscopic flicker device, that produces visual stimuli).
During his later years, Brion began to work extensively with noted jazz soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy. In 1986, they recorded an album with French musician Ramuntcho Matta, featuring Gysin singing/rapping his own texts. The album was reissued on CD in 1993 by Crammed Discs, under the title "Self-Portrait Jumping".
Despite, or because of, attending a Catholic school, Gysin became an atheist.
"Writing is fifty years behind painting."
"I enjoy inventing things out of fun. After all, life is a game, not a career."
"I view life as a fortuitous collaboration ascribable to the fact that one finds oneself at the right place at the same time."
"Writers don't own their words. Since when do words belong to anybody? 'Your very own words', indeed! And who are you?"
"I Am the Artist when I am Open. When I am closed I am Brion Gysin."
Quotes from others about the person
“"Gysin is the only man that I've ever respected in my life. I've admired people, I've liked them, but he's the only man I've ever respected." — William Burroughs, a writer”