He brought back the methods and teaching styles of French painting to Cape Town, where he has always lived. One of Laubscher’s teachers, Fernand Leger who used simplified, geometrical, outlined, machine-like forms celebrated the industrial achievements of the 20th century. Laubscher was deeply impressed by these, as he was by Leger’s unexpected and contrasting fields of colour, and he absorbed these elements into his own work, especially into his favourite subject, landscape. Despite changes over the years, Laubscher’s landscapes are usually stark interpretations of the emptier vistas of the South Western Cape Province.
Laubscher described his aim toward expanding composition as follows: “In South Africa the landmass is sharply defined against the sky, making two separate elements. We are engulfed in light, very much aware of space, and the continuity of the land which extends beyond our vision. What I am trying to achieve is to create the illusion of the landscape having continuing vastness and the painting being part of the whole, instead of being something complete and contained.”
Erik Laubscher, studied under Maurice van Essche at the Continental School of art in Cape Town in 1946-1947. During 1948-49 he studied at the Anglo-French art centre in London, under John Minton and Claude Venard. From 1950-1951 he studied in Paris, at the Academie Monmartre under Fernand Leger.
Aspired from his youth, to a full-time career in art, but was at first thwarted by practical circumstances. He married young, to Claude Bouscharain, with two children and very conscious of his responsibilities. In 1953 he purchased the "goodwill" of the Continental school of art from Maurice van Essche's former partner, George de Leon and changed its name to the Contemporary School of Art, full of confidence and idealism, set out to create an unconventional, progressive center.
During the year of 1955, the school failed for lack of finance and he was forced to seek employment as a sales representative. Conflict between his practical earning needs and his idealistic ambition severely limited his productivity.
In 1965 he was the founder-member of the Artists' Gallery. In 1969 he was appointed Art Director of Cape Town Art Centre, in Green Point. The following year, he was the Principal motivator in establishment of Ruth Prowse Art Centre.
Although Erik Laubscher succeeded early in winning the respect of critics and national selectors, his unconcealed resentment of the environmental circumstances which persistently frustrated his desire to devote his full attention to his painting served to cast him as the "angry young man" of South African Art.
The bold conventions and contemporary orientation which he had encountered and endorsed in the studios of Europe were in conflict with prevailing local trends and separated him immediately from the established Cape protagonists of "modernism".