©Celine, Alessandro Lucioni / Gorunway.com
03 February 2021

Léonie Bischoff – Fortunate coincidence that the comic book

With several artistic strings to her bow, this illustrator, pencil in hand, takes us to the discovery of her dream world to draw. Her last graphic novel Anaïs Nin: On the sea of lies, is a tremendous success, perfect moment to highlight this singular artist.

by Laëtitia Cadiou

What made this new biographical comic book inspired by the diary of the sulfurous author Anaïs Nin so successful? A few confidences with Léonie Bischoff show that sometimes success is born with mastered ingredients and sometimes some emanate from the air of time allowing to invite new thoughts but also rely on chance which sometimes does things well. Let’s start with the journey, a happy chance?

Léonie Bischoff was born in Switzerland in 1981, this Genevan woman will have very quickly found her way in the world of drawing. She studied art in Geneva, then went around the art schools in Switzerland, all of them offer training in visual arts focused on images, installations, video but too far from drawing. It is in Brussels, at the Ecole Supérieure des Arts de Saint Luc that the budding draftswoman will find her joyful way with a chance, that of obtaining in her Visual Arts curriculum, a training in Comics, a subject she had not necessarily thought of. A revelation and above all a form of expression that she will appropriate and handle with skill.

©Léonie Bischoff

Exiled in Belgium since then, Léonie explains that she could not have made a living from drawing in Switzerland, the market is too small and above all a profession that is not really recognized yet. “In Belgium it’s on the contrary a valued profession where a cartoonist has no problem renting an apartment,” she says amused. Léonie tells us about her commitments and associations that she has joined such as the Mille workshop in Brussels, an artists’ studio, a stimulating place of work but also rich in artistic exchanges, a few fanzines and collective exhibitions are going to see the light of day there. She has also joined the ideas of the Collective of Comics Creators against sexism co-founded in 2015 by Jul’ Maro and Lisa Mandel. A protest movement against the marginalization of women authors. There are still too many inequalities for the appreciation of women’s work in comics.

The entry of Anaïs Nin, the last character in Léonie Bischoff’s life, is another happy coincidence: “I used to babysit children in the evenings and, loving to read, I often found myself visiting the bookshelves of the libraries of my punctual employers. I came across the book Venus Erotica by Anaïs Nin, written in 1940, commissioned by mysterious collectors, lovers of erotic literature. It is only later while hunting in Plainpalais that I was attracted by a book cover of which I found the author that I had discovered a few years before. It was a transcription of part of her diary, an outlet, a platform to record all her fantasies and struggles as a woman in the bourgeois world in which she was evolving. I was fascinated by the character and wanted to focus on the period when she lived in Paris in the 1930s. The most interesting years in my opinion because she is young and in a phase of introspection, looking for freedom to access creation. »

©Léonie Bischoff

Léonie Bischoff will have succeeded in a true exercise in style by adapting a diary into a graphic novel of great subtlety where sensuality rhymes with poetry. We discover truculent moments of Anaïs Nin’s life, her loves, her fantasies, her life as a married woman but also the meeting with Henri Miller, her quest to become a writer. The colors, a stroke of chance and genius, that of using her three-lead pencil which she uses during signing sessions, these primary and capricious colors will however bring the elegance and refinement of the 30s and highlight with a delicate stroke of the fragile and difficult moments to express.

A real “coup de coeur” for this album which makes us want to (are)discover the writings of Anaïs Nin, is a volume II on the program?

Princess Suplex,

Hoodoo darlin’,

La Princesse des glaces, 2014

Le Prédicateur,

Le tailleur de pierre,

Anaïs Nin: sur la mer des mensonges, 2020