Tuesday 2 February 2010

Tralalajahal - The Incredible Worlds of Pierre Clement

Looking at the amazing work of Chris McEwan yesterday, put me in mind of another artist and near contemporary of Chris McEwan, Pierre Clement. I think the parallels are obvious but as Clement is of course French and the French love of the graphic arts is a long standing tradition which is well catered for in French publishing, his work although still relatively obscure is nevertheless somewhat easier to access.

Clement who was born in 1948, grew up with a fascination for both animals and architecture , like McEwan he worked in advertising followed by a career in illustration. His style falls into the category of 'la ligne claire' which refers to the style of elegant linear cartooning as pioneered by Herge, other notable exponents including Ted Benoit, Joost Swarte and Ever Meulen.

Clement has devoted much of his career to creating a fantastic world called Tralalajahal, peopled with weird and exotic creatures including running rhinos, swordfighters, tigers and crocidillians. In addition to the work he does on Tralalajahal which appears in books, ceramics and silkscreen prints he also has a series of textless bande desinee books on the really bizarre world of mice under the title of 'Les Souris' published by Mephistopolous.

Imagine a U.K. publisher ever backing such a venture - imagine a U.K. audience ever buying the books - well I'm sure some of us would.


  1. I've always found imaginary worlds fascinating, the more exotic the better, and am quite content to do without a story to hook it all on. In fact, pure imagery leaves the mind to wander with dreamlike freedom where a story runs the risk of breaking the spell with brutally intrusive logic.

    The tradition of "caprices" in art began, I believe, in the mid-1700s and continues right through to the present day with videogames like ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, which feature such marvellous landscapes, architecture and sheer "texture of place" that you could while away many an hour simply exploring.

    It's sad but true that there hasn't been much of a market for this kind of thing in the UK. I wonder if the British temperament is simply not geared to speculative thought unless it has a solid, practical foundation? When Leo and Martin and I first pitched our thing to David Fickling, we conceived of it as just a setting, joyfully bereft of logic and largely presented in visual form. And he turned it down, saying that a book like that wouldn't sell in Britain.

    Back then (2003) I'm sure he was right. But that was the old days of publishing where a book only made commercial sense if you could print up 10,000 copies, ship them around to W H Smith in Yarmouth and Nottingham and wherever, and hope that in each town there'd be a couple of dozen people who'd stumble across a copy and decide they liked it. But now it's possible to release something like this online, making it less expensive to set up and easier to find those 10,000 sympathetic souls who can turn it into a success.

    I know, I know - there I go again, thumping my favourite tub :-)

  2. Ahhhh ... but I've got to agree with you Dave. I think part of the trouble and this is where I sympathise with UK publishers is that their world is a very different world to the one that say specialist bande desinee publishers in France inhabit, just the very name W.H. Smith or even Waterstones makes one glaze over. Just think about the specialist B.D. outlets on the continent and then think about the vast expanse of the U.S. where independent comic shops and publishers were able to make it possible for comic creatives to dream up non formulaic projects and find a readership, even if at times it was a long slow haul in the initial stages.

    The more I think about it the more e-publishing provides the most exciting opportunities for creatives to really harness their product and direct it towards it's potential audience.

    Not saying it's going to be easy but the opportunity is there and it definitely wasn't in 2003.

  3. Hello, you can see the last images at Pierre Clement's website : http://www.jahal.fr/

  4. Next exhibition from 31st of October until 17th of November 2012 in Paris at la Galerie Oblique starts on 30th of October at 6pm.
    Projection of the Tableau Variable, tryptiques and details digital prints.