François Schuiten: Louis Vuitton Travel Book - Mars
Philippe Labaune Gallery is pleased to present Louis Vuitton Travel Book: Mars, a solo exhibition showcasing the original illustrations made by Belgian artist François Schuiten for the 2021 edition of the Louis Vuitton Travel Book. The worldwide premiere for this collection of drawings will also be the first of the series to exhibit in the United States. Schuiten, the recipient of the 2002 Grand Prix de la ville d'Angoulême, is a renowned artist and scenographer whose illustrations for Les Cités Obscures facilitated further contributions to film, animation, and the design of several metro stations and exhibition spaces across Europe. Among his influences are the sci-fi fantasies of Jules Verne, the impish and ludic work of Winsor McCay, and the visions of Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta. Brought up to study architecture by his father, the artist conveys his love for building and design through a nostalgic lens swaying the realms of dreams and reality.
Schuiten's work for the travel book began amid the COVID-19 pandemic; despite several travel restrictions, escalating global unrest, and increasing economic insecurity, the artist saw an opportunity for reinvention within the crisis.
For the first time in the travel book series' history, readers are ushered on an interstellar voyage to the Red Planet. Guided by instinct, the artist welcomes the sensation of sentiment and desire to avoid intellectualizing his creative approach. "I set off to discover Mars like an explorer, without any preconceived ideas ... I wanted to offer a vision of the planet on a human scale." The artist displays his versatility and architectural vision through various layers of colors and a combination of techniques.
Using acrylic paint, crayon, pigment pencils, and traditional ink, Schuiten's perception of Mars comes alive as an abounding, untouched specimen waiting for dissection. The artist fabricated the climate and terrain of the Terra Incognita, simulating a dreamlike domain with cobalt skies and crystalline caverns. The scene shifts between huge, mountainous cliff sides and a soft, hazy expanse with no visible end. The new era's Adam and Eve, sent on a mission to Mars to explore the possibilities of human survival, navigate the solitude and emptiness of the red planet. Ghostlike shadows swallow the vast plains, contrasting against the fiery, rusted sand stirred by the wind.
Moved by the inefficiencies of our economic system, Louis Vuitton Travel Book: Mars sees Schuiten artfully challenge the ethics behind interstellar colonization. In addition to being the first entry to explore the reaches of outer space, Louis Vuitton Travel Book: Mars is also the first in the series to enlist a writer. Together with Sylvain Tesson, a French travel writer and laureate of the Prix Renaudot, they craft a poignant story examining human morality in the wake of a planetary crisis.
Their entry to the Travel Book series is a tried-and-true graphic novel, raising concerns about the rapid pace at which society approaches a climate disaster fueled by avarice and mass consumption. The hazards of colonization and capitalism intersect, paralleling conversations brought about by the global crisis that led to Travel Book: Mars' creation.
Schuiten, reflecting on his fanciful and illusory voyage beyond the cosmos, said "it’s interesting to face Mars’ imaginary world, to everything that we know about Mars nowadays, and to see where we can still dream about that planet."
Founded in 2021, Philippe Labaune Gallery is devoted to championing and presenting original 20th and 21st century comic art and illustrations by emerging and established artist from around the world.
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