The Cabinet d’arts graphiques is generously supported by the Fondation Leenaards.
The Graphic Arts Room is devoted to disciplines outside the field of fine arts in the strictest sense, but which are nonetheless recognized as expressive art forms in their own right: these include illustration, graphic design, and comic books.
The semi-permanent space is conceived as an interface between the exhibitions presented at MAMCO and a creative field with close connections to the museum’s locality. Program curator Fabrice Stroun presents the space’s inaugural exhibition, featuring works by Japanese artist Yūichi Yokoyama, chosen in collaboration with Mathis Gasser.
Yūichi Yokoyama (*1967, Miyazaki) is one of the most experimental comic-book artists of his generation. A graduate of Tokyo’s Musahino Art University, he relinquished painting in the early 1990s to focus on manga—the Japanese term used since the 18th century to describe albums of caricatures, and which became synonymous with comic books in the second half of the Meiji era. Yokoyama’s shift to manga reflected his urge to make pictures in sequence, incorporating a temporal dimension, though his stories eschew classical narrative frameworks: with no beginning nor end, they deploy a broad, eclectic range of cut-out and graphic effects. His occasional human representations resemble digital avatars, or the figures in architectural models or drawings, rather than individual, psychologically rounded characters.
Yūichi Yokoyama readily acknowledges the influence of Mono-Ha (“The School of Things”), a Japanese neo-avant-garde group that explored the interaction between industrial materials such as steel, glass, or concrete, and natural elements such as wood, stone or fire. Mono-Ha artists were interested in both the allegorical power of their chosen materials, and the ways in which their chiefly monumental, minimalist works alter the viewer’s visual, spatial and temporal experience.
MAMCO’s exhibition focuses on an 18 pages story titled Astronauts and presented in two forms: as black and white original pages in ink and adhesive screen-tones, and as colored preparatory sketches. The artist’s process is hereby made apparent. Working through a facture associated with post-War Japanese science fiction comic books, Yūichi Yokoyama develops a singularly abstract visual syntax. The sound effects accompanying his bewildering imagery merge with the aerial dances of his characters and their speed lines, emphasizing the unique parameters of his chosen medium just at it redefines our very understanding of what a comic book can be.