Irony, avantgarde and noir: an interview with Benoît Preteseille

Benoît Preteseille, artist-in-residence from the last BilBolBul, explored in July 2015 the Davia Bargellini museum in Bologna, both discussing and reshaping, according to his perception, some of the works exposed there. Irony played a major role in this and the main target was trying to have playfully, yet heartfelt, confrontations with the works, somehow lightening and making the experience truly unforgettable.
The exhibit, inaugurated on November 20th, will remain open until January 17th.

After pursuing in Paris a degree in decorative arts, Benoît Preteseille begins his career working as a set designer in theaters and circuses. An avantguarde art-like crossbreeding, where absurd characters live in dreamlike and metaphysic worlds, is Petreseille’s main strength and most important purpose. He is also a poet and a singer in the ‘art rock’ duo Savon Tranchand [http://www.savontranchand.org/biographie/].

He founded in 2004, with the help of Wandrille Leroy, Edtions Warum [http://www.warum.fr/chambre.php], a publishing house that ‘voluntarily chooses to distance itself from the genre codes to sponsor experimental and innovative comics”.
He is also the director of the magazine ION, founded in 2010 in Angoulême (after a short publishing experience made up of seven issues printed between 2002 and 2004).

Good morning, Benoît,
and thank you for answering to our questions for BilBolBul!

Is this the first time you are meeting the Italian audience?
I have of course already met some italian people around european festivals, but it’s my first festival in Italia. None of my books have been translated yet, so I was very happy to make a special bilingual book beside my exhibition.

How was it to discover tEtuttoVeroCoverhe ancient works kept in the Davide Bargellini museum? In the introductive note to the book that gather together your works you write about yourself as attracted to “le morbide, le baroque, le raté”. What can you tell us about this?
I always like small museums because they show things that are not officially sublime. It’s thrilling for me to meet strange pieces of art, artists I’ve never heard of, tools, folk art, etcetera. I like to feel the humanity in museums, even the failures, the mistakes.
And the bad or weird pieces in general. But I don’t think that I’m the only one who prefers Diabolik to the cops that are chasing him.

From what came the love for Dadaism and Surrealism? When did you understand that the cohesion between these two artistic trends could use you as a tool to reach modern era?
I’m focused on the XIX-beginning of the XX period because it’s a time when making art was dangerous. Artists tried to make things that could be very badly seen, vulgar, far from normal beauty, the scandals often burst. It’s a spirit which goes on in other fields (philosophy, literature, music…) A book about that, Lipstick traces by Greil Marcus, was very important for me. Marcus gives a link between a lot of striking art pieces.

What value do you give to irony? What kind of role do you think it has or must have these days and pertaining art works?
I am not a man of sacred. Irony helps to change your view on things, but it also helps me to respect others. When you laugh with an artist, you don’t always tease him, sometimes you just bring him back alive. A painter like Francis Picabia (I made a book about his life and work) wants you to laugh I’m sure.Benoit-Preteseille2-1

How would you define your graphic style? Is there someone that influenced you in a particular way? How do you find inspiration?
Inspiration comes by feeding yourself with various things : life, books, movies, shows, music, etc.
I draw in a ‘ligne claire’ style I think, which certainly comes from my love of franco-belgian comics, E.P. Jacobs’ Blake and Mortimer, Jacques Tardi, Yves Chaland… A way of drawing which is quite natural for reading.

Crossbreeding between arts: is that a start, a destination or simply natural way to communicate?

Why choose?

Could you tell us your opinion regarding the comic world? Even related to your experience as a publisher and co-pulisher on ION and WARUM.
The comic world is incredibly creative, it’s one of the art domain which is the most moving and fascinating. On the other hand, we feel, as publishers and writers, that the most part of the public still sees it as a childish thing which doesn’t deserve to be seriously read. The secret masterpieces are everywhere, so just search and read!

The interview was made by e-mail on December 6th 2015
Translation from Italian to English by Elisabetta Gatti

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