The flamboyant artist Jacques de Loustal is one of the pioneers of the graphic novel in France. The atmosphere and the figures in his elegant illustrations have the luminosity of Gauguin paintings. Born in 1956, Loustal first started publishing his expressionist stories in the magazines Métal Hurlant, Rock & Folk, A Suivre and L'Echo des savanes. During the 1930s, he collaborated with Philippe Paringaux on two poignantly beautiful comic albums, Barney et la note bleue and Coeurs de sable.
Fascinated by literary adaptation, he became involved in illustrating Jérôme Charyn's romans noirs, including Les Frères Adamov and White Sonya, collaborated with the novelists Tito Topin and Jean-Luc Coatalem and illustrated works by Mac Orlan, Simenon, Bram Stoker and Boris Vian, among others.
In his travel notebooks, Jacques de Loustal rediscovered crayons and watercolours. He insists that for him the sketching process works back to front, in the sense that the ideas come first. He plays around with shadows as a way of creating light and, as long as an image remains as it were "unlit", the work is unfinished in his view. Loustal gives his images warmth through colours which are vibrant with emotion, using oils or inks with strong pigments, and when he works in black and white there are no gradations or half tones. His artwork makes no apologies for itself; it exorcises every last ghost from the medium on which it is drawn.
Indifferent to fashion, Jacques de Loustal has the ability to seize the sensation evoked by a certain hair cut, a fake Namibian palm, a sunset in the wilderness.
Each of his images expresses the delight of the unfettered gaze. His style is autonomous. Loustal is an artist more interested in images than in cartoon panels. And, rather than the story itself, it is his own thought processes which govern his graphic composition, operating outside the constraints posed by the narrative.