23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Olivier Schrauwen

Olivier Schrauwen was born in Bruges, Belgium, in 1977. He studied animation at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent and comic-strip drawing at Saint Luc in Brussels.

He worked on numerous collected albums and series such as »Hic Sunt Leones« (2003) and »Spirou«; in 2006 Schrauwen published his first book, »My Boy«, which has been translated into Finnish and Spanish. It deals with the complex relationship between a father and his too-short son – the tension between demonstrative public affection and the secret admission that the inadequacies of the son cannot really be accepted. According to a review in the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung« newspaper, Schrauwen’s visual narrative draws on the style of cartoonist Winsor McCay (»Little Nemo«, 1905–1920) and on a rigid two-dimensionality of the characters and the violence of the action. The review also pointed out that the artist uses a carefully-applied patina look – including patches of mildew – to recreate a museum atmosphere for the genre, with colors reminiscent of newspaper printing from the early twentieth century. But the article praised Schrauwen for succeeding in »making bygone aesthetic potential fruitful once more in an intelligent, renewing fashion« by revealing the nightmare behind the façade of the carefree bourgeoisie in everyday situations in a surreally cynical way – as he does in a family visit to the zoo. In 2007, »My Boy« made it into the final stages of the best album category at Angoulême and won the best debut prize at the Turnhout comic festival. Three years later, Schrauwen published »De man die zijn baard liet groeien« (tr: »The Man Who Let his Beard Grow«; 2011), a collection of comic strips which had appeared in magazines like »Mome« and »Strapazin«. A review in »The Comics Journal« once more identified a thematic thread in the contrast between subliminal violence and the banality of everyday life – from which Schrauwen generates comedy – as well as a visual thread in the artist’s typically reduced lines despite his experiments with various styles. The review concluded that the result was a book which felt fresh every time you turned a page. Most recently Schrauwen published the graphic novel »Arsène Schrauwen« (2014), which »Paste Magazine« described as one of the best and most complex comic of the year. It shows the adventures of Schrauwen’s grandfather in an African country, elegantly maintaining the two-color drawings and collage-like texts between reality and fantastic back-and-forth. Schrauwen says the colors used depend on the context and are not assigned any particular meaning.

Schrauwen lives in Berlin.


Mein Junge


Berlin, 2008

[Ü: Helge Lethi]

Der Mann, der seinen Bart wachsen ließ


Berlin, 2011

[Ü: Helge Lethi]

Arsène Schrauwen


Seattle, 2014