French illustrator Jacques de Loustal at the CO/MIX festival in Grahamstown

A rare comic strip artist, Loustal has developed a very personal way of telling stories. Depicting emotion rather than action, emphasizing silence and atmospheres, his drawing refers to the likes of Edward Hopper or David Hockney. As this prominent illustrator prepares to attend CO/MIX festival in Grahamstown, IntoFrench offers you a brief journey into his unique universe.

A world apart

“Minimalism”, “restraint”, “suggestion”. These words recur in descriptions of Jacques de Loustal's work – find the artist's official website in French here. For one thing is certain: his comics address the reader's intuitions rather than his taste for certitudes. This capacity to suggest a plot without dictating it has become a trademark of the French illustrator. With a taste for silent characters and evocative landscape, his bande dessinnée invites the reader to a world apart – a world where beauty and melancholy are enhanced by a cinematographic sense of the frame and stunning colours.


Yet, Loustal's versatile work is not only about comic strips. He has published several “Travel Diaries” sketching landscapes and people from Morocco to Thailand, from Greece to Namibia. His illustrations are also to be found in eminent publications such as The New Yorker (see picture) or hanging on the walls of Europe's finest art galleries – a glimpse of his recent exhibition at the Champaka Gallery in Brussels here. No wonder then that CO/MIX festival – which is part of the wider National Arts Festival of Grahamstown – invited him to show selected works during its new edition from June the 30th to July the 10th. Aiming to “leapfrog over barricades that once defended fine arts from pop culture” and “bring cartoon image onto canvas”, the festival found in Loustal the very embodiment of its purposes.

Hadrien Diez