Since 1998 Petra Mrzyk and Jean-François Moriceau have worked as a French artist duo whose “ligne claire” drawings, gracefully snaking their way through animated films, or else couched on paper or drawn on the surface of a wall, immediately identifies the two. They met at the fine art school in Quimper and since then have been developing a two-handed graphic approach that has yielded a prolific output characterized by the concision of their line and the playful exploration of forms and motifs. The pair has also collaborated with musicians, creating video clips for Philippe Katerine, Air, and Sébastien Tellier.
Mrzyk & Moriceau have adopted an intuitive take on drawing that sees motifs springing from one another and responding to each other with a humor that is often tinged with cruelty. In elaborating their drawings, the artists like to borrow their subjects from popular culture—you may run into Tintin as well as icons of art history and film, but also logos from the world of advertising. They decontextualize, transpose, and reappropriate these, producing new meanings. The forms and images that fill our daily lives are thus a chance to present a rereading of them that is endlessly renewed, one that views the subjects and motifs that are dealt with as so much noise, whose multiple meanings and wealth of harmonies are brought out and put on display. Mrzyk & Moriceau work to render these effects of meaning immediately visible through the optimal use of a minimum of resources.
The “ligne claire” of their black-and-white drawings is deliberately unexpressive, and the generically drawn figures are universal in character. Pencil and paper are characters in their own right and regularly appear at the heart of the artists’ imagery, offering them a way to provide a self-deprecating running commentary on their own work. The page is thus a place meant to be explored over and over without end, tautologically. One drawing in the collection shows pencils as standing characters ready to disappear into a book that is opening its pages to them, welcoming them into its folds. Elsewhere a stack of pages becomes the pretext for an undulating line or a play of waves. Like some absurd farce, one sheet of paper shows a pencil tracing a line followed by the eraser that is rubbing it out just as quickly, as if to recall the fleeting character of every artistic gesture.
A universal language that is accessible to one and all, drawing is for Mrzyk & Moriceau first and foremost a means to take a tender and poetic look at our culture. The pair engage in a form of 21st-century pop art, where archetypal figures drawn in “ligne claire” humorously defuse the creative gesture in favor of an art that is akin to our day-to-day world.
Julie Enckell Julliard