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Crossing Borders: White Cube

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Art versus comics in the Facebook age! Only in the quirky mind of new promising talent Brecht Vandenbroucke.

Art versus comics, the big debate rages on but not within the pages of White Cube. Self confessed pulp paraphernalia lover, New York Times illustrator and fellow Belgian Brecht Vandenbroucke is currently hailed as the new comics messiah, the heir to the throne of Olivier Schrauwen and Brecht Evens. His first exposure to the general public was in this year’s popular and well received Angoulême exhibtion La Boite A Gand, curated by Brecht Evens and featured promising young cartoonists from Belgium. Vandenbroucke certainly was one of the stand outs.

 

Here’s a guided tour in French by Evens himself.

Bearing exactly the same dimensions as a classic Tintin album, White Cube is a satirical look at classic and contemporary art within the framework of the Facebook epoch. More often than not, our two pink-skinned twin protagonists end the one page gag format on either a thumbs up or thumbs down. On another occasion f.e. they are caught defacing (improving?) a piece of art by painting a huge ‘like’-button on the canvas. Instant critical assessment is performed, tailor made for the internet generation. The white cube refers to the museum building they visit again and again in their never-ending quest for exigent justice and self-improvement. They even take their ‘job’ so seriously that they can’t stop, critiquing a neighbour’s kid on his doodles by taking a dump on them, followed by a thumbs up of course.

Even though Vandenbroucke satirizes the seriousness of the art business (including painting, music, fashion and multimedia art), it is obvious that he also has a lot of love for the field. The book is full of big and small works of art, visual references to both high and low art and the world of comics (I’ll leave it up to you whether this is high or low art, surely comics as a field can not be classified as either the one or the other).

Vandenbroucke’s paintings are a colourful explosion of wonderment and skewed perspectives. His big blocks of colour appear flat on the surface but the textual underpinning of the broad sweeps of paint enlivens the already booming pages. Throwing all caution to the wind, he mixes colours like there’s no tomorrow and the result are vibrant pages that ooze a tremendous amount of... fun and detail.

The album ends with our dynamic duo ending up in front of two doors: one labeled ‘art’, the other ‘comics’. Refusing to choose, they crash through the wall in the middle. I could not have envisioned a better and more uplifting way to end a book that takes a satirical look at the world of art criticism in general by an author that gaps the bridge himself between comics and art.

White Cube by Brecht Vandenbroucke comes with my highest recommendation and mind my words, it won’t be long before it is picked up by either Fantagraphics, Self Made Hero or Blank Slate for an international release.
 

White Cube by Brecht Vandenbroucke is published by Bries. It is a full colour oversized hardcover counting 64 pages and retails for €19.99.


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