Written by: Salva Rubio
Publisher: Le Lombard
Monet: Op Zoek naar het Licht – Comic Book Review
Claude Monet, we’ve all heard of him before. But what do we really know about the man? As far as we were concerned, not that much at all. Nonetheless, his paintings do speak to our imagination, thus we were very intrigued to find out about this graphic novel, about the life and work of the artist. It could have turned out being a boring biography, but instead, you’ll be treated to a story that provides a mix between his personal life, his paintings, and a little bit of fiction. Very intriguing indeed.
Giverny, 1923. Oscar-Claude Monet is an old man, living a quiet life on the French countryside. Because he has been having double cataract for years, he finally got a procedure done to get rid of it. While the bandage has to stay on for three days, making him unable to see for that period of time, he contemplates on his past life, taking you, the reader, along on his trip down memory lane.
From his early life to the period where he actually got the recognition he deserved, and everything in between, that’s what you’ll get to see. It’s a tough life, with many ups and downs, but his wife Camille never complained as he was trying to make a living out of painting, while staying true to his own style, and even further developing it, despite the Salon laughing it off year after year as childish and amateurish. As a means of showing their work to the public, Monet and some other artists such as Cézanne, Renoir and Sisley even organized their own salon, be it with little success. All this time though, Monet kept being fascinated by light, trying to capture it in his paintings, something the critics only learnt to value years later.
The story is told as one big throwback, meaning that Monet himself will mostly do the talking, or the explaining, to you. This gives the album quite a relaxed feel. The comic book is quite lengthy, but never bores. The length provides enough space to be quite specific about certain periods in Monet’s life, while it also gives Salva Rubio a chance to use his imagination, as this graphic novel may be close to the truth, but includes some artistic liberties as well.
EFA’s illustrations are simply wonderful to look at, and completely depict the atmosphere that Salva Rubio tried to arouse. While most of the illustrations look rather simple when it comes to shapes, they have a lot of character to them, and combined with the soft, watercolor shades, they look like little paintings themselves. What is the most striking though is, whenever a technique or a painting by Monet or one of his friends is mentioned, EFA’s illustrations and coloring start to change, so much that you can actually recognize the original paintings, or the techniques that are explained.
After reading through this graphic novel, you’ll probably discover even more links between the illustrations and actual existing paintings of the period, as there is a full explanation added, which shows the original paintings next to ETA’s illustrations. Here is also explained that the chronology of all the paintings mentioned is not always exactly as should be, but we were just in awe to see how perfectly all the paintings were assimilated in the story. Even if we had known the little artistic freedoms concerning the chronology, we wouldn’t have minded one bit.
Monet: Op Zoek naar het Licht makes for a nice story, one that is based on the painter Claude Monet’s life, but just as much on his paintings, which results in a story that may not be completely historically correct, but fascinating nonetheless. The way his paintings are assimilated in the story and the illustrations, is simply wonderful. This is definitely one to be on the lookout for.