'Killing time'. It's a strange concept really, isn't it? - when every second, minute and hour dies of its own accord without our help. Usually it flies, and we take great pains to save it. But anyway, in spite of being a life-long pacifist, I was fortunate to find myself in the fairly unusual position of having a little time to kill the other day. I chose a popular weapon – an internet connection. The minutes soon expired as I searched for something and then happily lost myself in it; I was looking for the work of an illustrator I hadn't thought about in a while and whose name I'd forgotten. All I could recall was that he was French, or was it Belgian? and that his children's book illustrations were popular in the '60s and '70s. It didn't take long for me to find him – Alain Grée. (He is French.)
For me, Alain Grée's illustrations provide a perfect tonic at this time of year. Winter's dragging on and we've hit that point when it's just thoroughly boring now and the hopeful journey towards Spring seems to be taking forever. Art always gives me a boost. This kind of art may look 'simple' but the ability to pare back so effectively takes a huge amount of skill; the bold colours and shapes are just right and with no need for outlines or overly fussy detail. Distilling the complexities of reality into blocks of colour and naïve form whilst retaining real interest and character is something I'm forever trying to master. And his compositions are so aesthetically pleasing - gorgeous examples of the graphic style of their era which work for me on a nostalgic level as well as an artistic one.
A number of Alain Grée's educational children's books with their original '60s and '70s illustrations have been reprinted in recent years and their popularity continues.
I could happily kill time with him any day.