Jul Quanouai

Published in Issue 21
Text by Molly Cranston

French illustrator and comic artist, Jul Quanouai, is a visual polyglot. The varying styles and mediums he employs in his practice are like private languages of process and form, each one operating on a slightly different emotional timbre. Most frequently, his output oscillates between sleek monochrome line work—with hard edges and shining surfaces—and tiny, bleeding watercolour pencil drawings in hazy technicolour. Weaving together these languages, these ways of image-making, he simultaneously straddles the realms of minute precision and textural feeling, communicating with articulate hope and wonder.

There’s a psychoactivity in his work, which seems ruled by gently abstract and poetic narratives. Not just in the psychedelic hues of his watercolours, but in the composition of space and time in his line drawings as well. Using a stacked perspective and slightly tensed shadow angles, objects appear to approach, hovering somewhere between the surface of the work and the viewer’s eye. Lines break apart into clustered flurries of dots and smear back into lines again, every element possessing a capacity for movement and transformation.

Quanouai’s most recent book, SAP, produced by the inimitable Berlin-based publisher Colorama, offers a wonderful collection of melting flower drawings. Impossible blooms in various stages of growth tremble and dance. Their bright yet inky, tearful quality concedes his endeavour to make work about his loves and fears in simultaneous motions. The book is prefaced; “My hearts towards the sun, stretched at full length, I fake happiness. But I pull on my roots, praying for my stem to break and for everything to stop.”