From this Tuesday, June 21, the Sign, national center of graphics, highlights the “Manga” culture through its latest exhibition. France has become the second country in the world to consume the most manga, after Japan of course, the exhibition offers an initiatory flight of this phenomenon, from its origins to today.
With 47 million copies sold in 2021, manga has been the French literary phenomenon for a few years. It is not uncommon to find in the hands of teenagers titles like One Piece, naruto, Jujutsu Kaisen, Demon Slayer. Plus, the classics still work as much as dragon ball, Berserk, Gunnm Where Astro Boyfor example, who knew how to revolutionize or launch pop-culture movements.
It is therefore not insignificant that Le Signe, the national graphic design centre, is interested in the codes that make the success of this comic strip from Japan. The new exhibition humbly titled “Manga”, accessible from this Tuesday, June 21, thus offers an initiatory flight of this Japanese art, which, at its origins at the beginning of the XXe century, was used as a caricature of power.
The term “manga” literally means “the exaggeration of the line”. “It was Edmond de Goncourt who brought this term back to France,” explains Jean-Michel Géridan, director of Le Signe and exhibition curator. Initially, the boards of a manga were far from being those that we read today.
The manga or the exaggeration of the line
Indeed, the stories were told in boxes, but very quickly, the arrival of the cinema will change the deal. The Lumières Brothers invent the different cinematographic shots from which the artist Rakuten Kitazawa will draw great inspiration for his drawings, after having seen “l’Arroseur Arrosé”.
We really had to wait for the 1950s and the publication ofAstro Boy, the little robot boy, to know the style of modern manga. “The genius of its author, Osamu Tezuka, is to have created a style of drawing that generates all this effect of movement, which makes all the success of manga today”, underlines Jean-Michel Géridan. “Manga has become an art of the sequence which differs from Franco-Belgian comics and American comics. »
As an institution of graphic design, Le Signe also wants to approach the relationship that exists between text and image. Japanese writing is, in itself, a calligraphic text. “Also, it’s interesting to see how a drawing fits into another drawing. The manga also has this faculty to describe what one cannot see. Each detail has a sound that can be translated into writing and/or drawing. Even a ray of sunshine can translate into an image. »
An art for youth
With some fifty exhibited works and several documents, the Sign offers visitors an initiatory flight into manga culture through chronological markers. Some originals, videos, posters, but also a reading corner thus allow to better understand this form of literature “extremely popular and non-elitist. In the main themes, the manga is aimed at adolescents by internalizing the aspirations of youth. Even if, often, the frame is dark; the desperation of Japanese culture is depicted there.
For example, Akira takes place after a nuclear disaster and the government sets up the Olympics to forget the drama. “At the same time, history also highlights the non-adaptation of the school system,” adds the exhibition curator. ” Astro Boy is a post-war version of Pinocchio, Grendizer is an ecological fable, The Rose of Versailles recounts the difficulty of integrating women into society. As for dragon ball, we place a popular Buddhist tale in the eyes of a little boy with magical powers. »
Everyone has been touched by the manga from near or far, through the generations. Those who are not followers of it will be able to find, through the exhibition of the Sign, the evolution of an art which has been able to undertake the creation of new cultural movements such as the meca or cyberpunk culture. Regular readers will be able to discover the beginnings and inspirations of various artists.