Art journey

This page is a personal summary up my art journey, written to help me reconnect with my roots by listing my influences as well as some of my projects.

Part 1: Initial inspirations

I grew up in a 3000 souls town dedicated to copper craftsmanship. There was no museum and I was almost never exposed to something else that classical art. My family was upper middle class, my parents did minimal studies. My father didn't have a lot of interest in art, unlike my mother who in her teens wanted to go to an art school (and mocked for it) and by the end of her career became an art seller. She is the one who inspired my siblings and I to pursue our art hobbies.

According to my parents I was an impatient and perfectionist kid, who could not stomach making something that did not worked on the first try, and consequently, was giving up fast. All the drawings prior to my teenage years had to be thrown away in an emergency moving, so I have no traces or memories of what I was doing before this period.

But what I remember was that both my parents loved movies (we had a ton of cassette tapes) and music, and that they had a nice collection of vinyls.

It's through the covers of their albums that I had some of the earliest visual shocks, mostly from covers of Pink Floyd and Supertramp.

The cover of Supertramp album Crime of the Century. In space, two hands are holding prison bars as if they wanted to escape.
This cover of Supertramp's album "Crime of the Century" by Paul Wakefield had a profound effect on me when I was a kid. I still love listening to this album. | Full size
Two people in suits, one of them set on fire, are shaking hands.
Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" album cover created by Storm Elvin Thorgerson. | Full size
On the beach, a multitude of steal frame beds are disposed, going as far as the horizon. A man sits on one of them, lost in thought.
Pink Floyd's "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" album cover created by Storm Elvin Thorgerson. | Full size
Two giant metallic profiles face each others in a field. Between their mouths we can see lights, and what seems to be a church or castle.
Pink Floyd's "The Division Bell" album cover created by Storm Elvin Thorgerson. | Full size

I was also a big reader, mostly children novels (one of my favorites was "Historia de una gaviota y del gato que le enseñó a volar" by Luis Sepulveda), then gravitated towards science fiction, comics and mangas. I read a lot of the kid's French/Belgian classics, but among them my favorite was Gaston Lagaffe. Growing up I also remember enjoying Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese for its black and white pages, which wasn't common as most European comics were in color.

Gaston is sleeping into a shelter entirely made of books. His colleagues, who were searching him to scold him, look moved by the mood of this magical place.
Franquin's Gaton Lagaffe was a comic depicting the life of Gaston, a terrible employee that never did his work and instead preferred inventing things, sleep, and care about his cat and seagull. The whole series mocks the absurdity of office jobs and adult life. This panel is one of the most memorable of the whole series. | Full size
The sailor Corto Maltese reading in a sofa. In the background, palms and arches suggest a Caribbean location.
Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese series impressed me with its black and white renditions. | Full size

I was also reading science fiction and fantasy, and among all of them, Tolkien's Silmarilion and Frank Herbert's Dune were easily the most influential and forged my interest for gigantic sagas, immortal beings, epic story-lines, and cycles of destruction. As an added bonus, the covers of the French edition of Dune were paintings by Wojtek Siudmak and harbored a visual language I had never seen before.

A surealist painting showing a kind of round mausoleum roof. It's sides are human faces. It is suspended on horse legs. It's front part is open and dark and inside, a fire colored body walks on giant lips. In the front bottom part, spiral staircase give access to the mausoleum to a golden draped figure. In the background, moon crashed on the ground.
A Wojtek Siudmak painting. Siudmak qualifies his style as fantastic hyper-realism. | Full size
A woman is floating in the air in a curled up position. She has a long piece of fabric stuck around her legs, that barely hides what looks like a bicycle wheel that does not touch her directly, but seems to transport her.
A Wojtek Siudmak painting. Siudmak was well known in France in the eighties and nineties for his covers of the Folio SF pocket editions. | Full size

In the mid nineties mangas started to get bigger editors and distributors, and like a lot of kids of my generation, I grew up with Dragon Ball, but also Gunnm and Akira.

Gally, a cyborg women, represented in her different bodies, from childhood to adulthood.
Yukito Kishiro's Gunnm was an exploration of the concept humanity at the age of cyborgs through its main character Gally, who changed bodies at different moments of her life. The physicality of Gally was also a huge influence on me. | Full size
A gigantic and dark explosion that looks like a black hole is engulfing a megalopolis, completely destroying it.
Katsuhiro Ōtomo's Akira, one of the most influential and visually impressive comics ever draw. The animated movie animation is also a masterpiece. | Full size

Around 2000, new and more obscure series started to appear, and among them I discovered BLAME!, which still remains the biggest artistic shock of my life.

A giant face is incrusted in a giant building, several pipes connecting it to the structure. In front of it, two robot knights guards.
Tsutomu Nihei's BLAME! manga. | Full size
Tsutomu Nihei's BLAME! manga. | Full size
Tsutomu Nihei's BLAME! manga. | Full size

It's obvious in retrospective how BLAME! united several things I already enjoyed into a package made for me. It's a manga ; in black and white ; a science fiction story lasting thousands of years ; it tackles with immortality, a topic that fascinates me ; its landscapes are both realistic and surrealist in the painterly sense ; its creatures are fantastic and gross ; its graphic style is rough ; and most of all, it's contemplative, silent, melancholic, and Sublime.

All those influences were not really conscious at the time. I wasn't able of analyzing and identify what I actually liked about them from an artistic point. I had zero education around art, nor critical thinking. All I knew was that I enjoyed all that.

As a teenager, outside of uninspired doodles copying what I liked and done during math classes, there was nothing of notice to remember. I was starting to do some world building in my head, but could not get the reflex to actually dedicate time to it, too occupied to play video games.

Art was always an afterthought, a dreamy escape from the annoyance of high school life in the pre-smartphone era.

That changed a year later, after I graduated from high school.

Initially published: October 30th, 2023
Generated: October 31st, 2023