La Galerie Martel celebrates the immense imaginative resources of one of France’s most talented (and underrated) comic artists.
Although La Galerie Martel tends to make safe curatorial choices – showing work by established crowd-pleasers like Spiegelman, Robert Crumb, Matotti and Chris Ware – it will occasionally veer into less-charted territory, as with its Eric Lambé show in 2013 and more recently with its exhibition of the work of Hugues Micol, one of France’s most talented (and most underrated) graphic artists. The show brings together comic book printer plates and large-format paintings and collages, across a range of artistic registers: desolate arctic landscapes, psychedelic (often pornographic) domestic scenes and – especially magnificent – a series of illustrations from the graphic novel ‘Le Chien Dans la Vallée de Chambara’.
Micol’s virtuosic illustrations, as impressive in black and white as in colour, have an effortless quality to them. Clearly, Micol works from instinct; drawing on immense imaginative resources, his plates and canvases leap between countries (the U.S. and Japan for the most part), situations and styles, with no pretence of realism. But the fantasy worlds conjured by Micol are never self-indulgent; rather they are colourful parodies of the contemporary Id, at once thoroughly strange and, inexplicably, familiar.