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Saturday, March 26, 2022

Exhibition in photos: Aude Picault at the 49th Angoulême International Comics Festival

Sous la plume d'Aude Picault. Sonia Déchamps, Augustin Arrivé and Marie Corbin. Angoulème. Vaisseau Moebius. 17-20 March 2022.

When I reflect on Aude Picault's comics, three observations immediately come to mind. First, there is her clear preference for drawing with pen and ink, which offers her a clean visual style of delicate lines that evoke a light finesse and a direct intimate candor. Secondly, her comics narrate smoothly through time without the use of traditional panel borders - the page itself acts as her only framed contour.  Finally, her body of work shows an impressive versatility to create comics across a spectrum of different forms and formats that consistently express her emotional, political and personal sensibilities in relating the everyday life of women. "Sous la plume d'Aude Picault" ("From the pen of Aude Picault") unifies all of these aspects into a retrospective exhibition that not only celebrates her 15+ career in comics (so far), but also showcases the growth and evolution of her artistic expression through her work in comics.

Located on the second floor of the Vaisseau Moebius, "Sous la plume d'Aude Picault" splits its exhibition space into four distinct zones that conceptualize Picault's work into the different comics vehicles that serve her personal expression: long form comics; carnets (notebooks); news media and erotica. Each section is introduced with dual commentary from the curators and from Picault herself, offering a synthesis of critical perspective with personal and biographical context. The original artwork accompanying each section offers visitors the opportunity to appreciate the effort and labour behind Picault's work in her ongoing search to develop her authentic voice. 

The first section deals with her long form comics, all of which are informed with autobiographical elements. Two of her comics that deal with her travel adventures [TRANSAT (2009)and PARENTHÈSE PATAGONE (2015)] open the the exhibition, followed by her three fiction albums [FANFARE (2011), IDÉAL STANDARD (2017) and AMALIA (2021)] which are gathered together and displayed against the backdrop of a green curtain. The curators noted that beyond sharing a common album format, these three works also share discursive similarities as they all dramatize in different ways the struggle of their female protagonists to liberate themselves from the shackles of conformity, standards, and tradition that they have culturally and generationally inherited. 

The carnets section places the spotlight on the aspect of Picault's work that features her most direct expression of thoughts, ideas, and emotions. Pieces from MOI JE (2004) took visual prominence on the main wall of this section as this collection of notebook sketches became her first self-published comics work, whereas the adjacent wall featured her most personal work PAPA (2006) wherein she deals with the emotional aftermath of her father's suicide displays a single piece of art from that book. An interesting addition to this section was the generous inclusion of drawings by her studio mates at the Villa du Lavoir (Ruppert and Mulot, Charles Berberian, Hugues Micol, Léon Maret and Jéremie Perrodeau) to accompany the collection of her own sketches as her way of saying how important that environment is to her growth as both a professional and personal support network.

The news media section is located on a mezzanine to the second floor and it showcases Picault's work in newspapers and on the web. A selection of her L'AIR DE RIEN strips that appeared in the Libération newspaper from 2013 to 2015 are showcased, as well as pieces from CHICOU-CHICOU (2008) a two-year comics blog project with the collaboration of several other artists wherein a theme was collectively chosen and each participant would ping-pong their ideas against one another in this virtual space. Some of these pieces are displayed though the entirety of the project is still accessible online.  

The final section that focuses on her contributions to the BD Cul series published by Les Requins Marteaux [COMTESSE (2010) and DÉESSE (2019)] is installed at the back end of the mezzanine, behind curtains clearly labeled SEXE for any who may take offense. Picault's two entries are standouts in both a graphical and discursive sense as they each demonstrate her growing confidence in sharing her feminine voice to sexual fantasy and to sexual power through the lens of erotica. It served as a fitting conclusion to the exhibition, offering a summation of her work while also pointing to the possibilities that the future holds. Like her protagonists and her comics themselves, Aude Picault discreetly yet firmly moves forward unbound by traditional constraints.    

-Nick Nguyen

 n.b. unfortunately this exhibition does not have an accompanying catalogue.

All photos taken by Nick Nguyen 

Photos are organized in an attempt to present a visual chronology of the exhibition installation as experienced in a sequential walkthrough.


Aude Picault introducing the exhibition spotlighting her work





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