The Obscure World of the Urbatect. Architectural comics by François Schuiten & Benoît Peeters
18.06. – 08.11.2020
The exhibition revolves around the Obscure Cities (Les Cités obscures), graphic novel by François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters. Emphasis is on the architectural concepts and it presents new coloured serigraphs of “La Fièvre d’Urbicande” and original drawings of “Brüsel” and “La Frontière invisible”. Videos of the work process and digital images are also on display.
Estonian translation of the graphic novel “La Fièvre d’Urbicande” is published as “Segadus Urbicande’is” (translation Anu Lutsepp, language editing Kaja Randam, graphics Koit Randmäe, publisher Estonian Architecture Museum)
Curators: Benoît Peeters, Sandra Mälk
Artist: François Schuiten
Graphic novel writer: Benoît Peeters
Exhibition design: Koit Randmäe
Texts: Sandra Mälk
Original drawings: François Schuiten Archival Fund, Coll. King Baudouin Foundation, entrusted to the Bibliotheca Wittockiana, Brussels (Belgium)
“La Fièvre d’Urbicande” with colors: Jack Durieux
Serigraphies printed: Numéris’Art (Belgia)
Picture framing: Järsi OÜ
Supporters: Cultural Endownment of Estonia, Ministry of Culture, France Institute in Estonia
Many thanks to Anne-Sophie Doms and Julie Lenaerts (King Baudouin Foundation), Géraldine David and Chloé Brault (Bibliotheca Wittockiana), Mari Laaniste, Eike Eller, Kadri Jauram, Jérôme Allard, Eilko Bronsema and Altaplana.be
Benoît Peeters gave an online lecture “The Obscure Cities: Imaginary Architectures Between Utopia and Dystopia” at 8 October 2020
Artist François Schuiten was born in 1956 in Brussels into a family of architects. His work was strongly influenced by his father Robert Schuiten and his brother Luc Schuiten, who also chose the family profession.
At the age of 16, Schuiten published his first comic in French magazine Pilote. His works then found an outlet in experimental magazine Métal Hurlant, American sci-fi and fantasy comic magazine Heavy Metal and avant-garde comic magazine Le 9ème Rêve.
Schuiten’s fondness for architecture is expressed at its most authentic in the series of graphic novels titled Les Cités obscures (known in English as The Obscure Cities), which he started with his childhood friend Benoît Peeters in the 1980s. The action in the series often takes place in a retro-futuristic parallel world akin to ours, revolving around fantastic cities and buildings. The comics were first published in the comic magazine À Suivre. To date, the Cities graphic novels have been published in 12 chronicles and several albums. The series has enjoyed great popularity and has been translated into more than 15 languages.
Schuiten’s interest in fusing technological progress with architecture is illustrated by his railway-themed book La Douce (2012), some of the images of which can be viewed in augmented reality. In 2019, he produced a chronicle based on graphic novel Blake & Mortimer, which is dedicated to Belgian comic artist Edgar P. Jacobs.Schuiten’s work is not limited to comic strip art. He has worked as a production designer for a number of motion pictures, such as The Perils of Gwendoline, Taxandria, The Golden Compass and Mars et Avril. He is currently writing the screenplay for a film, Aquarica, with Benoît Sokal and Martin Villeneuve. He was behind several monumental comics-themed sgraffiti in Brussels and also designed the Arts et Métiers Metro station in Paris in steampunk style.
Writer and critic Benoît Peeters was born in 1956 in Paris. He studied philosophy at the Sorbonne and defended a Master’s degree supervised by Roland Barthes at L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.
In 1976, Peeters’ first novel, Omnibus, was published, followed by another, La Bibliothèque de Villers (1980). Today he has 60 published works to his name. As a scholar of Hergé, Peeters has authored several treatises such as Le monde d’Hergé (The World of Hergé) and Hergé, fils de Tintin (Hergé, Son of Tintin). He has also written essays on motifs from works by Alfred Hitchcock, Rodolphe Töpffer, Jiro Taniguchi and Chris Ware.
In collaboration with François Schuiten, he helped salvage and restore the first Jugendstil building designed by Victor Horta, the Maison Autrique (1893) in Brussels. Other collaborators for Peeters are artists Frédéric Boilet and Aurélia Aurita, photographer Marie-Françoise Plissart, composer Bruno Letort and film directors Raúl Ruiz and Jaco Van Dormael. He is the author of several short films and documentaries and also full-length film Le Dernier plan (The Last Shot).
In 2012, Peeters’ biography of philosopher Jacques Derrida was published; it has since been translated into ten languages. This year, a biography of the Hungarian psychoanalyst Sándor Ferencz is due to be published.
Peeters currently serves as a visiting Professor in Graphic Fiction and Comic Art at Lancaster University (UK).
More info on “The Obscure Cities” can be found at www.altaplana.be