Jean Leclercq – HUMPF!

And BAM, there he is! As comics continues to question its own codes, Jean Leclercq just about crashes onto the contemporary scene, banging on a drum and armed with onomatopoeias. Leclercq, who never reads but “marks down words,” bombards us with panels, each more improbable than the last—an explosion that absconds with all narrative context. A voracious comics collector and compulsive Saturday-night artist, Leclercq takes his inspiration and runs, leaving a trail of images in his wake that brim with raw beauty. Let’s go! Crash! Bang!! Splash! Tumble into the chaotic, uproarious world of HUMPF!
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Jean Leclerq fait de la BD

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HUMPF! – By Jean Leclercq  - preface by Erwin Dejasse and Atak - French + English -   440 pages - 17 x 20 cm / four-colour printing - Soft cover with dust jacket - ISBN: 9782390220169 - 39 euros - out October 10, 2019

Jean Leclercq à l’ArtS Factory !
vernissage le mardi 8 octobre de 18h à 21h
exposition du 9 octobre au 9 novembre 2019
galerie arts factory – 27 rue de charonne 75011 paris
métro : ledru-rollin & bastille – du lundi au samedi de 12h30 à 19h30
infos : +33(0)6 22 85 35 86 / www.artsfactory.net

 

Marking Down Words

ATAK about Belgian cartoonist Jean Leclerq

Stacks of drawings cover my desk: hundreds, maybe even thousands, in a variety of formats. Except for a few A4-sized sheets, most consist of huge pieces of cardboard with comic book excerpts painted on the back. I’m stunned by the sheer quantity of original material, not sure where to begin. 

And yet it’s just a fragment of the annual production of Belgian artist Jean Leclercq, now 67 years old. He looks at the massive bundle and, despite audible pride, limits himself to a modest explanation: he has been drawing for fifty-five years. 

Leclercq is one of the stars of La “S” Grand Atelier, an internationally renowned workspace for artists with disabilities in the small Belgian town of Vielsalm, in the Ardennes mountains. He shows up there once a week with a prospector’s swagger: loud voice, sauntering stride and bags full of drawings. They represent his weekly output, produced at home – he and his best friend, Marcel, live with a foster family in Lierneux – on a simple chest of drawers in his spare time. 

He makes his living with odd jobs at a church-run hospital, for instance splitting wood. That leaves only afternoons and weekends free for art, but he enjoys drawing so much that he usually works late into the night. It’s no wonder that the studio staff who archive his production can barely keep up. 

They sort and scan the constant stream of images and respond to the many queries about his work. In recent years, Leclercq has shown in numerous group and solo exhibitions worldwide. Enthusiasm has been especially strong in the French comics community. 

I first came across Leclercq’s work in a specialized comics blog. Soon after, I visited Knock Outsider Komics, an exhibition in Brussels dedicated to the studio’s artists. 

His raw work was powerfully displayed in the first room, and I was instantly struck by the unique poetry of his visual language. Although he takes his subjects from various comics, his pictures are not simply copies. For Leclercq, comics are a vast repository of images; the narrative dimension of the medium doesn’t matter to him. 

Jean has been fascinated by comics since childhood. To this day, he remains a fan of the Franco-Belgian standards Asterix, Lucky Luke and Suske en Wiske (translated as Willy and Wanda in the US, Spike and Suzy in the UK) and, above all, the great classic Tintin. Level of difficulty and personal appeal determine his choice of subject. He starts his drawings anywhere on the page, employing odd croppings. Because he believes that images and words belong together in comics, he adds word balloons to the top of his drawings – often far from the figures, so that the compositions feature strangely empty areas. 

Often, too, the content of the word balloons is meaningless. “I never read,” says Leclerqc. “I mark down words.” He dispenses with detailed backgrounds, replacing them with flat expanses of color that act as filler. He usually works with cheap gouaches and classroom watercolor sets. “Never the other ones, the expensive ones!” The result is a powerful, direct, and original materiality. Reviewers invoke an aesthetic proximity to Roy Lichtenstein and Pop Art, in naïve form. But theoretical classifications don’t interest Leclercq. He draws because he loves drawing, and if people like what he makes, all the better.

He plans to retire at 80, he says. As would only be fitting. 

A Portrait from Jean Leclerq by Atak

The rewards

 

Les Contreparties seront envoyés chez vous ou pourront êtres retirées à

  • Bruxelles – Art et Marges Musée
  • Paris – Arts Factory
  • Vielsalm – La S Grand Atelier

 

€39 for pick-up in Brussels, Vielsalm or Paris, or €46 sent to your door

A signed copy of the book  + your name in the book’s credits.

 

€60 for pick-up in Brussels, Vielsalm or Paris, or €67 sent to your door

A signed copy of the book  + a copy of Knock Outsider! (the Knock Outsider manifesto) + your name in the book’s credits.

 

€100 for pick-up in Brussels, Vielsalm or Paris, or €110 sent to your door

A signed copy of the book + a limited-edition print (out of 50), numbered and signed, format around 50/60 cm, of a work titled: “Madame seriez vous gagnée par les idées des anarchistes?” (Madame, would you be swayed by the anarchists’ ideas?) + your name in the book’s credits.

€180 for pick-up in Brussels, Vielsalm or Paris, or €200 sent to your door

A signed copy of the book  + a copy of all titles in the Knock Outsider! collection (11 books) to be picked up in Brussels or Paris + your name in the book’s credits.

 

€300 for pick-up in Brussels, Vielsalm or Paris, or sent to your door

A signed copy of the book + a magnificent work by Jean Leclercq titled "Vite!.. Vite ! ...", (Hurry!... Hurry!...), mixed media on cardboard, format 21.6 x 19.5  cm + your name in the book’s credits.

 

€400 for pick-up in Brussels, Vielsalm or Paris, or sent to your door

A signed copy of the book + a magnificent work by Jean Leclercq titled "Pas du tout !" (Not at all!), mixed media on paperboard, format 24 x 35 cm, sent to your address + your name in the book’s credits.

 

€500 for pick-up in Brussels, Vielsalm or Paris, or sent to your door

A signed copy of the book + a magnificent work by Jean Leclercq titled "Tout à coup Puïk !" (Suddenly Puïkl!), mixed media on paperboard, format 53 x 41 cm, sent to your address + your name in the book’s credits.

 

Biographie de l’artiste

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En 2003, il réalise ses premiers dessins à son domicile et au Centre Hospitalier Spécialisé de Lierneux dans l’Ardenne belge. Partant toujours de modèles préexistants, il redessine des portraits de femmes et d’hommes célèbres trouvés dans son dictionnaire, des photos extraites d’ouvrages sur les animaux ou des illustrations issues de livres pour enfants. Mais l’essentiel de sa production pléthorique est constituée de cases de bandes dessinées. Dans ce domaine, il fait fl èche de tout bois : albums de Bob et Bobette ou de Tintin, volumes reliés du journal Spirou, anthologies de super-héros Marvel, pockets de gare italiens, numéros dépareillés de Mickey Parade ou de Pif Gadget… Une abondante documentation glanée pour l’essentiel sur les marchés aux puces locaux.

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