Comic strip boxes and soap bubbles decoded at Art Brut in Lausanne

The Swiss artist Clemens Wild (untitled, 2012) can be discovered at L’Art Brut in Lausanne in the exhibition “Art Brut et Bande Dessinée”. sda-ats

This content was published on September 15, 2022 – 16:25

(Keystone ATS)

The Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne tries to create a dialogue between Art Brut and comics in its new and exciting exhibition. After all, the similarities between the two expressions are more numerous than one can imagine.

“This is the first time, to our knowledge, that an exhibition has brought together Art Brut and comics in one museum,” Sarah Lombardi, director of the Collection de l’Art Brut, told media during Thursday’s presentation. Until next February 26, 270 works by 32 artists are to be discovered, 75 of which come from the collections of the Lausanne Museum, for as many revised or fragmented forms.

At first everything seemed to be against Art Brut and comics. On the one hand a very free and lonely art that does not care about the supposed taste of the public, on the other hand a popular art with a codified language whose heroes are often multimedia icons of a vanished mass culture, sums up Erwin Dejasse, Belgian curator of the exhibition, art historian, comic -Specialist and researcher at the Free University of Brussels.

coexistence of image and writing

“After overcoming these antagonisms, I actually realized that Art Brut has an ultra-present narrative dimension in which the image and the writing coexist enormously,” he explains. According to the client, while 20th-century art has largely emancipated itself from narrative in favor of formal research or conceptual approaches, many works of raw art show that images retain all of their capacity to produce narratives.

“I’ve also observed that many Art Brut creators have taken the imagery and codes from comics and freely re-engineered them to fit their imaginations,” he says. “Comics and Art Brut share a heterogeneity of signs and codes, be they text, images, frames, onomatopoeia, speech bubbles or pictograms,” he emphasizes.

“Both somehow break the line between the visible and the legible,” adds Mr. Dejasse. In the end, the observation is clear to him: the similarities between these two fields of expression are rich and varied. “So the idea was to explore the connections between the two, get them talking to each other, play with their connections,” says the comic enthusiast.

Narrative and visual boldness

So it is this fascinating meeting of two arts, closer than we thought, that the Collection de l’Art brut offers on the ground floor of the museum. Audiences are invited to discover artists and creators with plenty of narrative and visual boldness.

The visit begins with works close to the classic comic canons and ends with those furthest away from them. Some therefore take up the structure in boxes, others destructure it completely.

Far from the notebooks of the American Frank Johnson, in the tradition of the comics of the 1930s, the exhibition ends with the visual explosions of the Japanese Yuichi Nishida, in which we can hardly make out the codes of the manga, inserted on a single immense image drawn in one to two years.

Poetry, fantasies and utopias

In between, the visitor’s gaze rests on unique paintings with multiple scenes, works with unbalanced occupation of space, texts fluttering around Fauvist images, unusual tree-like or superimposed narratives, drawings that invite circular, itinerant or random readings. Other works take up the counterpoint of comics and fix the immobility and petrification of time.

All these productions offer a wide variety of registers and themes: poetry in images, epic stories, chronicles of daily life (especially in psychiatric hospitals), traumatic testimonies, fantasized visions or even utopian universes.

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