Hopital Brut

Hopital BrutRecently acquired by Special Collections, Hôpital Brut is an international anthology of printmakers and comics artists produced by hand in Marseilles by Caroline Sury and Pakito Bolino under the press name, Le Dernier Cri. Dozens of international artists are represented, including Stéphane Blanquet, Jonathan Rosen, Henriette Valium, Fabio Zimbres, Moolinex, Leif Goldberg, Brian Chippendale and C.F., to name a few. A combination of silkscreen and color offset printing is used, with varying paper stocks. While I recommend this book to fans of Juxtapoz magazine, RAW Magazine, and lowbrow pop surrealism, it’s filled with extremely disturbing and explicit graphics. Blood, meat, mutation, sexual deviation and dystopian futures abound – and there is admittedly a prurient quality to much of it. A spirit of protest against establishment sponsored abuses such as torture, cruel slaughterhouse practices and erosion of civil liberties saves this collection (or at least the stronger pieces) from becoming shock value for its own sake. The artist Fredox, for example, in a particularly gruesome photo collage piece, depicts Michael Jackson and Neverland Ranch, drugs, torture, false religion and cruel scientific experimentation in a mish-mash of truly horrific imagery as a satirical comment on American culture. In the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson, The Snow Queen, Snow Queen's mirrorthe troll (the devil) makes a mirror which reflects only the ugly and evil aspects of people and things. When the mirror shatters, a splinter gets lodged in the little boy Kai’s heart, making him susceptible to abduction by the Snow Queen. Hôpital Brut is a Snow Queen’s mirror of sorts – making lovely landscapes look like “boiled spinach” –and magnifying the most horrifying aspects of modern culture while failing to recognize anything beautiful or good. Still, if you like your art like boiled spinach – earthy, tangled, not exactly beautiful – Hôpital Brut is a lot of fun.

posted by Ariel Bordeaux

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