Yann Kebbi

Portrait Yann Kebbi
© Sylvain Larnicol

Yann Kebbi was born in Paris in 1987 and studied illustration at the École Estienne and the Image Imprimée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris with an exchange year in New York at the Parsons School of Design. As an illustrator, Kebbi uses colored pencil to outline figures, buildings, streets, and more to create lively, often urban scenes. His motifs are primarily people, which tend to feature »guys«. Even if his drawings appear bright and cheerful at first glance, there is usually a deeper layer behind the surface, which gives the tangle of lines and colors a certain aura of sadness.

After numerous illustrations for publications by other authors, he published his first own book, »Americanin, un Chien à New York« (2012; Eng.: »Americanine: A Haute Dog in New York«, 2015). It is the story of a dog that meets his friends after a trip to New York and tells of his adventures. This offers children the opportunity to get to know this special city across the Atlantic through an amusing dog story. After an exhibition in the Chempaka Gallery in Brussels, the title »Howdy, dessins dʼAmerique« (tr: Howdy, Drawings of America) appeared in 2014. These pictures show Kebbi’s development over the years from his exploration of the possibilities of watercolors to the implementation of richly colored spaces. In »Monotypes« (2016), he uses monotype prints, a technique that was favored by French artists like Degas, Matisse and Picasso before him. He developed the graphic novel »La structure est pourrie, camarade« together with Viken Berberian in 2017, which also appeared in English in 2019 (»The Structure is Rotten, Comrade«) and in German in 2020 (»Marode Substanz, Kamerad!«). It tells the eccentric story of family disputes and inherited Soviet statues. The protagonist of the story is a young architect who moves from Paris to the Armenian capital of Yerevan, which is currently reinventing its urban landscape. However, the residents are outraged by the destruction, erasure of history, as well as the eviction of many people from their homes throughout the city. The architect is soon confronted with a revolution. Most recently, »Fondation Kebbi« (2019) was a large-format book that included reproductions of a series of twenty works of art, a collection of imaginary gallery spaces in which Yann Kebbi’s works are on display, and the presentation of various techniques: drawing, lithography, engraving or monotyping.

Kebbi has displayed his works in many group and solo exhibitions in Paris, Hong Kong, and Brussels. His works regularly appear in »Le Monde«, »Libération«, »The New Yorker«, »The Guardian«, »The Wall Street Journal«, and »The Washington Post«. He lives in Paris.