From March 3rd to April 16th, 2022, Philippe Labaune gallery will devote itself to three international artists who bear witness to their culture through their storytelling with drawings. Elizabeth Colomba, Catherine Meurisse and Rutu Modan combine the elegance of the line, the strength of the words, and the singularity of their personality to inscribe their works in the great library of the memory of humanity that the graphic novel occupies today.
They follow in the footsteps of pioneers such as Will Eisner, Art Spiegelman or Marjane Satrapi, pushing the limits of their medium a little further while still addressing a global audience. Showcasing the works of three women with different culture, background, and training will offer a swift yet intricate look into the world of narrative art and illustration which can tackle serious subjects from the complicated yet unbreakable bonds of family, the impact of politics and war on individuals, the issue of immigration, violence, and racism but also the lightness of new beginnings or the beauty of long-lasting love. In color or in black and white, on paper or on screen, their strips and illustrations presented on the gallery walls show three personal territories or rather three continents in the broadest sens
Living and working in Harlem, Elizabeth Colomba was born in 1976 in the Paris region, to a family from the island of Martinique in the French West Indies. An assiduous reader of European comics, she turned to painting at a very young age. She studied at the Estienne school and at the Beaux-arts in Paris. Through a classic approach to figuration, she offers black personalities a spotlight and a dignity that they have too often been denied. Her paintings have been exhibited at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, at the Museum of Art of Princeton University and at New York’s Park Avenue Armory. In 1998, she moved to Los Angeles and worked as a story boarder in the motion picture industry. This is where, she met writer Aurélie Lévy with whom she collaborated on the screenplay of her first graphic novel, Queenie, the Godmother of Harlem (2021). It is probably no coincidence that this work retraces the true journey of Stephanie St. Clair, born in the 19th century in Martinique who became a feared gang leader in Harlem during the prohibition.
Catherine Meurisse was born in 1980 in Niort in the West of France. At seventeen, she won the school comic book competition at the Angoulême International Festival. After studying at the School of Decorative Arts in Paris, she embarked on illustration, comics, and press cartoons, a field in which she gained popularity through regular collaboration with Charlie Hebdo. After escaping the January 2015 attack, she turned her back on caricature to devote herself mainly to comics. Through her graphic novel Lightness (2016), Catherine Meurisse recounts her journey from loss and heartbreak to her eventual recovery and reentry into the world of illustrations. She also pays homage to the splendor of nature and the fine arts, something that is carried through her next three graphic novels, Great Spaces (2018), Delacroix (2019) and Young Woman and the Sea (2021). In the United States, she illustrated Lenny The Lobster Can’t Stay For Dinner by Finn and Michael Buckley.
In 2020, she became the first comic strip artist to become a member of the French Academy of Fine Arts and she was one of the three artists nominated for the prestigious Grand Prix d’ Angoulême 2021.
If she had not met Art Spiegelman during her studies at the Bezalel School of Fine Arts in Jerusalem, Rutu Modan, born in 1966, would probably not have chosen comics as a means of expression. Indeed, at that time, sequential art was not yet recognized among the narrative forms worthy of interest in Israel. She collaborated with the writer Yirmi Pinkus to undertake her first works and in 1995 formed the Actus Tragicus collective, which is recognized as the avant-garde of Hebrew comics. In 2005, she was chosen as an outstanding artist of the Israel Cultural Excellence Foundation. Author in her own right, Rutu Modan uses elements of popular culture, situation comedy, and the clear line style that made the success of Tintin while dealing with serious and complex subjects. She tackles the terrorist attacks in Exit Wounds in 2007, the memory of the Shoah in Property in 2013 and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Tunnels in 2021.
These three books have had a strong global impact, winning awards in San Diego, Angoulême, and New York. As an illustrator, Rutu Modan collaborates with the international press and for the New York Times in particular. Her children’s books have been published through Francoise Mouly’s Toon Books.
Colomba ~ Meurisse ~ Modan: 3 Continents will be on view from March 3 to April 16, 2022 at Philippe Labaune Gallery, 534 West 24th Street, Ground Floor, NYC. An Opening Reception will be held on March 3rd from 6:30 to 9:00pm.