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Ceci n'est pas la bande dessinée flamande

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Beeldbeeld, a Belgian exhibition organiser, has already accumulated loads of accolades for the way they handled their exhibitions of Jose Munoz, Dave McKean and Schuiten and Peeters. They are known for immersing the visitor in the worlds of the artist, often replicating drawings, transforming them into huge set pieces, incorporating the drawings in aspects of the work itself and having a good eye for career overviews. Their latest hatching, Ceci n'est pas la bande dessinée flamande, presents 20 talents from Belgium who are paving the way for themselves with exciting and innovating work.

Every artist literally received their own corner, huge panels fused together in a 90° angle and everyone was free to do with their little corner what they could think of. Usually this resulted in huge blown up pictures but a few of them went all the way, remaking bus stops, toilet stalls and even a peep show. This does not mean however that the more simple stalls did not offer quality, a good booth is in itself not an indicator for good comic art. It just means the focus of the artist was more on the drawings than on the atmosphere and even then this could be argued. Maybe some were just a tad more enthusiastic about the presentation concept than others. Overall, the quality is top notch though. Beeldbeeld has drawn together an impressive array of talent, most of those already known or established in Belgium and a few even abroad like France or the USA. Here are some highlights in order of presentation as you walk through the exhibition.

Phillip Paquet : his fascination with jazz and the eastern regions always come to the front in his work. Internationally known for his biography of Louis Armstrong and his follow up Snapshots about Charlie Parker. His booth presented the reader with an intimate corner perfect for getting to know his expert use of the brush and his laid out blacks in combination with a slightly cartoony look. More recently, his comics are aimed at his eastern influences with his series Yumewww.philippaquet.com

Randall C : the master of the fluid pen line. Randall C has already won numerous prizes for his debut album Sleepy heads. It has been translated into French and is soon to be coming in English. Randall's comics are marked by a fluid dreamlike state of existence wherestory lines and characters are as fluid as the poetic words they utter. His two panels consisted of a huge drawing with outtakes of his comics, punctuated with figures made out of clay. www.randall.be

Kristof Spaey : Debuted with Hope, a stark black and white tale inspired visually by Frank Miller's Sin City and Brian Bendis' Jinx. Since then, he evolved into a cleaner style with a bit more fluid line work and figuring. While his older work took more from American comics idioms, he now represents a more classic take on the European comic and it will be interesting to see where his career will take him next. users.telenet.be/kristofspaey

Luc Cromheecke : Luc has worked for Spirou magazine among many others and has recently come to fame with his humorist creation Plunk. The topic of his booth, representing a timeline of the evolution of Plunk from plankton to well ... whatever he is supposed to be now. www.plunk.be

Serge Baeken : one of the unsung great of the Flemish bande dessinée. He is a true formalistic interpreter, dissecting every story to the bone while looking for that other angle to tell a story. His visual work consists of wildly diverging styles while still staying true to his own visual mode. He likes to work in black and white though lately colour has shown up more in his work. He debuted with his urban themed The No Stories in 2006 and his since worked for magazines, the theater and other cultural institutions. Here's to hoping he produces another album soon. His booth was an expressive visual interpretation of a bus stop with a view of a city, presented in black and white that contrasted beautifully with the orange seats of the bus stop. www.SergeOnTheRocks.com

Olivier Schrauwen : Much lauded and already known for readers of Mome magazine. His debut album My boy was an exceptional and ironic take on colonial attitudes, steeped in sarcasm coupled with a drawing style that owes a lot to the old newspaper styles. This combination often leads to flights of deeply dramatic humour leads and unexpected flights of surrealism. Highly recommended. ollieschrauwen.blogspot.com 

Pieter De Poortere :  a class act of itself, he uses a clean minimalistic cartoon style and puts his comics full of Easter eggs. He is a master of the one page humour comic with a dark streak. His albums are mostly wordless and he is published in numerous magazines and newspapers. For the exposition, he recreated a peepshow with his most famous character, where you saw his comics when you enter the booth and slide away the panel to watch the peepshow. Paper handkerchiefs complimentary and present in the booth. www.boerke.be

Kim Duchateau : despite his seemingly eternal good moods, he has a mean streak inside of him. His comics often revolve around a rather bleak punchline, highlighting theseedier sides of human nature. His cartoony style goes back to the seventies underground comics with a modern sensibility coupled with flat colouring but with a well chosen palette. www.kimkrampen.be

Maarten Vandewiele : displayed a huge outtake of his latest graphic novel about the Parisian fashion industry I love Paris where you could see the comics in the silhouettes of the exemplary formed females. His smooth and curly style is very graphic and sixties retro. Although more of an illustrator than a true comic strip creator, he has produced numerous comics outside of his illustrations. www.maartenvandewiele.be

Judith Vanistendael : she rose to infamy with her debut album The virgin and the negro about her relationship with a black asylum seeker in Belgium. Her drawings are fluid and chunky at the same time, the black inks anchoring the often cartoony look in the real world. She has an individual feel for comics, often from a literary point of view and it makes for enthralling reading. A comic from Vanistendael is always very specific a Vanistendael comic. www.judithvanistendael.be

Brecht Evens : a wild imagination coupled with intricate drawings and a surrealist worldview. Evens is still very young, being born in 1986, but already shows an intricate flair for an iconoclastic view on comics making. His latest comic Night animals is already on Top Shelf's publishing schedule. www.brechtevens.tk

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Visit  Beeldbeeld.com for more information about their exhibitions.

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