Emmanuel Guibert, Grand Prix of the 47th International Comic Strip Festival of Angoulême is the subject of an exceptional exhibition in 2021. Scheduled to welcome the public from the launch of this new edition of the FIBD, postponed due to Covid-19, it also saw its inauguration postponed. We were nevertheless able to discover it a few days ago… in the hope that the Angoulême museum, which houses it, could quickly reopen its doors. Guided tour of Emmanuel Guibert, in good company, with the author.
“Here, we are in Cognac, with my grandmother, and I read a collection of Spirou from 1948.” Just above the usual mask, Emmanuel Guibert’s eyes seem even more laughing than usual. This January afternoon, when the 48th Angoulême Festival was to be held, the author reveals with undisguised joy the exhibition dedicated to him to a handful of lucky journalists, including us. Posted in front of a reproduction of several meters of one of his inks representing him as a child, sitting in a deckchair devouring a comic book, he shifts and points to the original which was used for the poster. Again in his younger years, reading with his head resting on his leg. “I still remember the taste of ferruginous ham that my knee had, he details maliciously. I am reading a Tintin, most certainly The Crab with the Golden Claws. »
Contrary to what the author of Alan’s War with this introduction, here no comics. But his passions, his life. “We wanted to show something different from what has been done in recent years”, explains Sonia Déchamps, the festival’s curator and artistic co-director. Because, exceptional thing, it is the third exhibition in less than four years which is dedicated to the author, after Emmanuel Guibert. Comic biographies at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 2020 and Drawing as writing, during the 2018 edition of the Angoulême festival. So we should not repeat ourselves.
The first part ofEmmanuel Guibert in good company, titled “Herborisons”, reveals his passion for his outdoor walks and observation drawing. Trees, forests, temples, roofs, mountains … From France, Japan, China or elsewhere … The author shows – if we still doubt it – his incredible mastery of graphic arts. “There are a lot of unseen. This is the result of 30 years of carnettists. I started when I was 27. You will therefore see 30 extracts here, one per year: painting, prints, engravings, drawings… ”
The sparkling gaze, the author indulges with pleasure in the game of why and how. “With these confinements, I wanted to show the outside, nature. It allowed me to reopen boxes and rediscover old drawings. There was a real work of creation and collaboration with the festival team. I devoted time to it, the time usually devoted to my books. “
Illustration of this desire to stage his work: the “Undergrowth” space. In this black alcove, stacks of backlit designs. Some reproduce the breakthrough of the sun’s rays through the foliage, others give the impression of scanning a tree and its roots. “These are not drawings that were made at the same time or even created to be put together. The objective was to give a lively effect by layering them. “
The author walks towards the second part of the exhibition, “Fraternisons”. “It could also have been called friends bar… To exhibit is to receive at home. So if I show my home, my drawings, why not show my friends? “
It is little to say if the concept of friendship is close to his heart. The saga ofAlan (The Association), dedicated to Alan Ingram Cope, the trilogy The photograph (Dupuis / Aire Libre) staging Didier Lefèvre or more recently Mike (Gallimard), story dedicated to Michael James Plautz, all three of the author’s dear companions. It is also with the latter, an American architect, also practicing observational drawing, that this second third of the exhibition begins. “A comic book designer is not and should not be made up of comics only. There are writers, sculptors here… ” Guibert speaks with admiration of these artists, some of whom have passed away. Once again, it’s a world tour: America, Lithuania, China, France. Works by Cécile Reims, Ye Xin, Micheline Bousquet, Jean-Louis Faure, Alain Keler or even Fiamma Luzzati thus parade, who on her blog depicted the work of caregivers during the first wave of Covid-19. “We are with the others. We create by and for others… Even more by having drunk ”, he chuckles.
Once past the imposing sculpture of a Napoleon larger than life, Emmanuel Guibert passes the baton to the scenographer Philippe Ghielmetti, for an even different universe: ” The music. It’s his other passion, assures the producer and curator of the exhibition dedicated to him this summer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris. Even if he will tell you the opposite, he plays music very well. Moreover, it is he who wrote and interprets that of the last season of the animated series Ariol. “ The visit continues with this “Cool corridor of beautiful music”, unveiling his illustrations made for the record covers of the musical label Vision Fugitive.
The latest posters take us to a room where a film is shown which reveals all of Guibert’s genius. Sitting quietly, in the middle of a meadow. He picks a few branches there which he peels then soaks in his watercolor and paints. “We are here. “
The youngest will be able to go in search of Ariol and his friends in the permanent collections of the Angoulême museum, through a playful and entertaining treasure hunt. Strongly that it opens!
Emmanuel Guibert exhibition, in good company
Angoulême Museum, until June 27, 2021, opening postponed
Catalog “Emmanuel Guibert, in good company”, Conversations with Jacques Samson
Les Impressions Nouvelles, 160 pages, € 35.
Photos © Hadrien Chidiac for BoDoï