Once in a while, I come across an artist I’ve never heard of before but whose work I really like. It’s always a delight to stumble upon an elegant boat afloat daintily on a sea of crap. (Life is full of new things to love that we just haven’t discovered yet, but the trick is to discover them amidst all the noise.)
Florent Chavouet is an accomplished artist who prefers bright colours, which predisposed me to liking his art before I even considered the potency of his storytelling. He mostly draws in a cute, cartoony style that’s perfect for all the travelling-around-Japan chronicling he has done. However, architecture doesn’t stump him at all – a lot of his drawings are successful, detailed sketches of streets and apartments – and he’s amply capable of realism when the situation calls for it. And he’s an excellent storyteller, to boot.
My favourite book of his (so far) is my most recent acquisition: Petites coupures à Shioguni (Éditions Philippe Picquier, 2015), a complex story involving many characters and the ways their lives intersect and influence one another during a typical night in Japan. (Well, maybe not typical.) As the story unfolds after sunset, we get treated to a lot of pop-right-out-of-the-book, light-on-dark-background scenes, something Chavouet excels at. The art is his most accomplished yet; his latest book came out in 2016 (L’île Louvre), but I haven’t read it so far. I think we can say with certainty that he’s still developing his talents!
This graphic novel hasn’t been translated to English yet, so non-French speakers will have to wait for a bit until it is.
Going back in time, but remaining in Japan, here are a few samples from Tokyo on Foot: Travels in the City’s Most Colorful Neighborhoods (Tuttle Publishing, 2011).
Visit Chavouet’s blog here – if you don’t speak French, you can admire the art (though you’ll be missing the stories he likes to make up for each of his drawings/paintings).