Tanino Liberatore: Poetry Interrupted! at Philippe Labaune Gallery in October




Images (L-R) Tanino Liberatore, Les Fleurs Du Mal, Les Phares, 2015; Charcoal on paper, 45.28 x 55.12 inches ~ Tanino Liberatore, Ranx Regeneration, 2017; Acrylic on canvas, 32.28 x 22.44 inches. Images courtesy of the Gallery

Philippe Labaune Gallery will open its doors to Poetry Iinterrupted! ~ an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Italian artist Tanino Liberatore. On view will be paintings the artist created highlighting his infamous 1980s Italian comic series’ protagonist, Ranxerox, a hyper-masculine cyborg anti-hero that shook the world of comics with themes of sex, drugs, anarchy, and violence. Accompanying Liberatore’s paintings will be a selection of works created by international artists paying homage to the iconic comic books series. Artists include Paul Pope, Jonathan Barravechia, Victor Kalvachev, Oliver Valtine, among others. Also on view will be a selection of eleven large-scale drawings Liberatore made in response to Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil), a collection of poems written by 19th century French poet, Charles Baudelaire. Poetry Interrupted! will be on view October 7 ~ November 13, 2021, with an opening reception on Thursday, October 7th from 11am to 9pm.

Ranxerox was originally released in 1982. The two-volume series was drawn by Liberatore and authored by the late Stefano Tamburini. The series follows main characters, Ranx and Lubna, through a strange and perverse world in which Liberatore glamorizes through lush depictions. Ranx feels human passions, but they are simply photocopies. The series turns a mirror onto a modern society, depicting its seedy underbelly. Tanino Liberatore firmly established a strong visual aesthetic in the realm of comics, creating a raw beauty and romanticized decadence of environments and sordid characters.

On view will be several recent works where Liberatore highlighting his infamous characters. Within the 2017 painting Ranx Regeneration, Liberatore delivers a brightly colored profile of his greatest protagonist, exposing his gears and inner workings within his cranial cavity. A giant speech bubble in the background contains what appears to be an abstracted sky. The imagery is both agitated and surreal. A Magritte on steroids!

In 2015, Liberatore was given an opportunity to be paired with a poet whose sensuous and deviant words were written more than a hundred years ago. Rendered mostly in charcoal, Liberatore completed a series of drawings that were a visual response, and displayed alongside, a publication of Charles Baudelaire’s 1856 collection of poems, Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil). Liberatore’s style of drawing vacillates between frenetic mark making-quickly rendering the curves and shapes of bodies on paper as to not miss a fleeting moment; to smoothly detailed forms that envelop intimate moments. The painting of Baudelaire’s words to Liberatore’s images bring together two individuals from two different times who relish in the id of a modern society.

Taetano ‘Tanino’ Liberatore was born in Quadri, Italy in 1953. He initially studied architecture before turning his pen to comics and illustrations. Between 1976 and 1980, his work was published in several magazines, including Cannibale and II Male, eventually teaming up with Stefano Tamburini to create the series Ranxerox. In 1980, he began working in France regularly contributing to magazines such as L’Echo des Savanes, (A Suivre), and Métal hurlant (Heavy Metal). When his collaborator Stefano Tamburini died in 1986, Liberatore abandoned comics for illustration. In 1990, he illustrated Le rêve de Lucy by Pierre Pelot. Liberatore revived the Ranxerox character in 1996 with the release of Ranx 3:Amen! with writer and director Alain Chabat. In 2003, Liberatore was given a César Award for Best Costume Design for the film Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra. In 2007, Liberatore created the artwork for Lucy l’Espoir, a prehistoric science fiction graphic novel. His drawings have been exhibited in galleries in Paris, Rome, and Brussels. He currently resides in Paris.

Philippe Labaune Gallery is located at 534 West 24th Street, Ground Floor, NYC.