(K. Brent Tomer),
AS AN artist, Roland Topor is hard to pin down: his work is best characterised by the specificity of his humour and the variety of his creations. Over the course of four decades, his diverse illustrations featured in books, newspapers and posters; he created animations and film sequences, as well as a children’s television show. A new retrospective at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) in Paris investigates his infiltration of French culture and celebrates his imaginaire debridé.
Topor studied at the Beaux-arts de Paris, but rejected the classical painter-in-his-atelier trope. Muddling and transgressing milieux, he did not consider himself fixed and the context of the work did not define its value for him. During an interview in 1993, Topor is shown sipping hard alcohol and convivially smoking a cigar; he said that he considered himself to be a déconneur—a smart-ass or piss-taker—rather than a humorist.
Topor’s first drawings were published in 1958 in Bizarre, a revue with a Dada and Surrealist bent. His early output—rudimentary black and white sketches—often featured an everyman in a suit and a bowler hat, nodding to the archetypes…Continue reading