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Carmen seduces the draughtsman of the two million books

Benjamin Lacombe exhibits in the museum ABC the powerful and dark character that has created for the novel of Prosper Mérimée

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Carmen seduces the draughtsman of the two million books

One autumn day of 1831 Prosper Mérimée sat in Madrid to write an extensive letter to director of Revue de Paris. He returned from a search for Andalusia after trail of bandits, which had been a failure. "I almost feel ashamed," he confessed. Accompanied him, however, all material that would pour into a short novel, of even shorter title, destined to forge one of longest female archetypes: Carmen, cigarette of fatal final, which was popularized massively after becoming an opera of Georges Bizet.

On anor day of autumn also sat in Madrid draughtsman Benjamin Lacombe (Paris, 1982). With markers, he began to profile Carmen's face, trapped in a web-mantle, while answering some questions. Around it were 23 original illustrations made with Chinese ink, gouache and oil for work of Mérimée and will be exhibited until March 4 in museum ABC. Her Carmen is all eyes and hair, all darkness and challenge. "She is a feminist figure who defends equality and rebels. Not to be considered a inferior being is what brings it to final destination, "he says. "and has become an icon of feminism against will of Mérimée, who was afraid of him. He was a nineteenth-century man, and he talks about her as if she were a witch, "he adds.

Illustrator Benjamin Lacombe. Inma Flores

The nineteenth stereotypes are present throughout work, especially in fourth chapter, set of prejudices towards Gypsies. "It is necessary to situate book in its context," says Lacombe, "many might consider writer racist, but it was someone trained, who had traveled, who had passion for Spain and who was simply a man of his time."

For his version of Carmen, published by Edelvives, Lacombe has devised an atmosphere between melancholy and tenebrist, in keeping with romantic spirit of time when fiction that envelops triangle formed around Sevillian cigarette develops. As in his previous albums, Lacombe has chosen all aspects, from white typography on black pages to a cover covered in fabric and partially embroidered that transforms book into a precious object. Toger with artistic singularity – gypsy's Web Engarza some pages with ors-, version of work is offered translated by Mauro Ermine and additional material of great interest as one of letters that novelist Mérimée sends to Revue de Paris , where y anticipate some of characters that will populate Carmen, published in 1845.

Illustration of Benjamin Lacombe for ' Carmen '.

It is second gypsy who stars in a book of Lacombe. Before it illustrated Our Lady of Paris, of Victor Hugo, where it has an essential role Emerald Gypsy. "Although y are gypsies and free spirits, y are different characters. Carmen is not a victim like Esmeralda. The Andalusian is fully aware of weapon of seduction that has and defends ir freedom at expense of everything, "he compares.

Real and fictitious female icons

Frida (2017). With texts by Sébastien Pérez, album embraces colorful universe of Mexican painter through flowers, jewellery, skulls or orthopedic pieces.

Alice in Wonderland (2016). Lacombe goes beyond illustration: it plays with typography and props up book with additional material like letters of Lewis Carroll.

Marie Antoinette. Secret Diary of a Queen (2015). A rococo explosion that sometimes evokes floral and fruity compositions of Giuseppe Arcimboldo. He uses real letters to try to put toger an intimate portrait of Queen who lost her head.

Snow White (2011). Its protagonist is a young haggard with bulging eyes chased by perfidious crows. His revisions place protagonists of children's tales in desasosegantes and scary scenarios.

Our Lady of Paris (2010). Edited by Mondadori, was his first foray into a classic, which would n follow Macabre Tales, by Edgar Allan Poe, in translation of Julio Cortázar.

There are ojipláticos characters, one of characteristic features of this French illustrator who is eating world: He has sold two million copies and has published almost 40 works, among illustrations of classics such as Alice in Wonderland, albums Own as comic spirit of time or creations shared with texts of Sebastien Perez as dedicated to Frida Kahlo or herbal fairy. Although all his works have personality of his own, one can trace DNA of Lacombe in almost all of m. "To me interesting thing is interpretation of reality. To portray real are already photography and video, "explains draughtsman, an unusual example of early success and prolific talent.

His first work, elaborated as an end-of-career project for School of Decorative Arts in Paris, was published in March 2006. Chosen following year as one of best youth books published in U.S. by Time Magazine, he became a top seller. Since n, Lacombe lives an escalation of sales and projects. Many of m starred in iconic women, wher y were real as Marie-Antoinette or fictional as Snow White. Always with a dark spot, even when it comes to children's projects, because it holds that children don't want to be treated like fools.


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