It’s a Billout

“You always want what you don’t have…” . An exotic surname being a case in point (I have a surname that you could probably guess) and as such this makes me immediately envious of Guy Billout, a French artist and illustrator, whose surname alone suggests exuberance and finesse. The word ‘blowout’ immediately comes to mind.

However, does Guy hide in the wide shadows of his name? Thankfully, no. In fact, Guy’s illustrations make me jealous too, and to stop my constant gushing and praise in its tracks, here are a few of my favourites –

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To quote the wise old Wikipedia – “Billout’s aesthetic style is clean and spare, sometimes incorporating some ironic element”. However, there is so much more to Guy’s work than this, and I think the illustrations’ initial ‘simplicity’ masks a deeper meaning to his work. Thus to get in the mind of a this talented Frenchman (zut alors!), I decided to identify a three key themes that appear frequently in his work. Take that Wikipedia.

1) Headlights. Billout takes the bright contrast of the lighthouse’s strobe or car beam to define a form of physicality. Suddenly, figures can ‘walk on sunshine’ or literally follow the light ray’s path – that or the light follows them. To talk Freud – the concept of “seeking the spotlight”, or “having a sinister control on nature” come to mind. My analysis otherwise runs short.

2) Nature, in particular the sea, feature heavily in Billout’s work. I intepret this as a collision of forces – the human looking small and insignificant against a vast natural backdrop. Generally, humans do not come across too well in Billout’s images (they look rather meddlesome), which clearly emphasises Billout’s use of irony.

3) Patterns. You know the infinite staircase, that impossible virtual illusion? Well Billout’s work reminds me a lot of that. All seems normal until you notice something in the corner.

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