I first became aware of Belgian cartoonist Brecht Vandenbroucke on Facebook, seeing his colorful painted comic strips being shared and liked and shared again. White Cube, his debut title, is a collection of many of those works as well as plenty more that were brand new to me. Originally published by a few European houses in 2013 (this copy was published by Huuda Huuda) Drawn and Quaterly has picked up the title for a wide North American release earlier this year.
White Cube follows a pair of bald headed, bubblegum every-men as they transit the fine art world of museums and galleries. At times the strips remind me of the tragically under celebrated Little King by Otto Soglow with their wordless gags of slapstick and wit as the comedic duo cut through the pretense of art world bullshit.
It is this combination of high and low brow which is at the heart of the painted strips, and also becomes the encompassing riddle of the book. Can fine art and comics be one in the same? It’s a question that’s been asked for decades but Vandenbroucke definitely adds some new and funny arguments of his own.
It’s quite fitting that Facebook was where I first encountered Vandenbroucke as the internet and social media are among the topics he addresses. I hesitate to post too many of the punchlines here but this strip in particular is a great example of his wit involving the influence internet culture has had on society.
I’d be interested to see how broadly White Cube will be accepted. It’s content can really be pretty niche at times. And those who aren’t familiar with the art world will definitely find many of the jokes going over their heads. Marina Abramovic isn’t exactly a house hold name.
A few of the strips can be confusing with the actions or punchlines difficult to decipher, which to me breaks the number one rule of comics. But even in those cases the panels are so lively and interesting that its not too disappointing. Brecht Vandenbroucke has made his mark as a young talent to watch and I’m excited to see what’s yet to come.