It’s difficult to quite work out how illustrator Manon Cezaro makes her artworks. Broad in their final applications the illustrator’s pieces always have a slight blur to them, making the whole image appear like a photograph just out of focus. That said, the elements featured, whether it’s a scenic view, a smiling puppy or a gallery, are still tangible – as well as visually appealing.
This unique approach can be traced back to an exhibition project Manon took part in at Bleu Galerie in Brest, alongside the artist Alexis Jamet. Creating a joint exhibition, Mollesse Carrée, meaning “squared softness”, the pair avoided creating anything angular or polished, instead looking for “rounded and softened” moments. “There were foggy landscapes and through the trompe-l’oeil window, abstract paintings and still-life images,” Manon recalls.
Made using a combination of oil pastel “faded with our fingers” and very diluted ink, the pair would create directly on to materials which would diffuse the image even further, “such as fabrics or puffy paper”. Then, finally, “to get it more and more vaporous I tried different tools to finally use an airbrush. It took a lot of tries to develop a technique that matches my drawing.”
Manon says this approach is indicative of her wider creative perspective. “My work is plural,” she muses. “I have an experimental practice, where I like to work with technical constraints, or in reaction to someone else’s work.” The outcomes of this approach vary too, with the creative interested “in making books and drawings, but I also like to explore photography and textiles.” Inspiration-wise Manon characteristically looks to a broad sphere of resources too: “I like the work of master painters and sculptors as much as anecdotal things I capture with my camera or smartphone daily.”
One of Manon’s more recent anecdotal projects is A Special Request, a short book made again with Alexis Jamet starring a bunch of dogs. Utilising this same airbrush technique, Alexis first drew some characters, which then inspired the pair to create a story for context. “I was trying to make images that could fit to his work and the story,” Manon says. “I ended up making the doggies.” Featuring almost passport photographs of dogs looking sweetly into the camera, and using a similar colour palette for the dogs and the home settings, the series is a calming pictorial read. Working with others, as she does continuously with Alexis, is also a key part of Manon’s practice, experimenting also with this process in her previous collective Zuper, and a collaboration with the artist Lisa Mouchet.
With an ever-growing practice that encompasses books, prints, clothing and even a domino set, Manon doesn’t seem to be slowing down creatively. “I will continue to draw airbrushed dogs and paint little houses and horses… But I’d like to work on bigger formats too, do more flag stitching and screen printing,” she adds. So while the content of her pieces may not be differing, the medium by which they’re created certainly will be. With a collection of books soon to be published too, including a title on Quintal Editions very soon, there’s plenty of this artist’s multifaceted practice to explore.
Manon Cezaro: Portraits de chien, airbrush on paper (Copyright © Manon Cezaro, 2020)
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.