Sempé, itinerary of an illustrator
With nearly 350 original drawings, many unpublished until now, the exhibition introduces the viewer to the artist’s career, each piece revealing a little more of his personality. Displaying doodles on the letterheads of his employer, a wine broker in Bordeaux in 1950, to early drafts signed DRO and published in Sud-Ouest in 1950, or the arrival of the Petit Nicolas character in Moustique, a Belgian newspaper, his weekly column in L’Express and Paris-Match, the exhibition retraces the career and the developing of a talent over the years. Gradually, the dry and rough lines gain in precision, in fluidity. A disconcerted and amused observer of the world around him, the illustrator casually analyses the human soul by playing with exaggerated scenes, roles, comments, or thoughts his characters have. Rather than create laugh-out loud scenes, Sempé prefers to build-up the comedy in his illustrations. Through his use of understatement and allusion, and with the concern of finding “le mot juste”, he masters a dryness and sharpness in his work.