Prints : Avril

"A la Fondation Atomium" - François Avril

"A la Fondation Atomium" - François Avril


François Avril is, with Dupuy/Berberian and Petit-Roulet, the originator of “Ligne frêle” or “delicate line” style. A renowned illustrator of the City of Light, he has for a long time loved Brussels, the city that he came to know in the early 1980s thanks to Yves Chaland. He has had a strong awareness of “Atomium spirit” ever since.

François Avril discovered the emblematic Belgian monument as part of the Pasamonik brothers’ “Atomium ’58” collection. The logo that marks this exquisite collection is designed by Ever Meulen and it represents one of the fabled souvenirs of World Expo Brussels: a helicopter circling the structure’s eight massive “globes.” “Like Chaland, Serge Clerc, Torres, I wanted to be part of this small, but prestigious, collection published by Magic Strip.” That was to become a reality with the appearance of “Doppelgänger-SA” in January 1986. He can remember the moment he saw the real “thing.” “It already looked beautiful in photographs; in reality, like the Eiffel Tower, it was magnificent and imposing.”

Avril quickly adapted to the spirit of the Atomium and the ambience of the era it heralded. “I furnished my surroundings in “Atomic Style”, with Sputnik luminaires, low, palette-shaped tables, Tecno armchairs, Pierre Guariche lamps, perforated sheet metal, lamps and other fittings with flexible coil stems…” This style appears to be timeless, judging by the demand for reproductions of “Jean Prouvé”, “Serge Mouille”, “Isamo Noguchi” and “Charles Eames” pieces, among others. “Classics!” insists François.

For Avril, the Atomium is “always relevant, always modern, timeless; it’s a representation of a molecule of iron… that’s not something that’s likely to change anytime soon.” The artist likes to reconstruct reality; to reinvent familiar cityscapes. At the outset, he sought to completely dismantle the structure, imagining it as some kind of futuristic spaceship that threatens a villa just like the one in “Pirates du silence”, the “Spirou et Fantasio” album that he considers to be most in touch with “Atomic spirit.” “One aspect was self-evident… it is a highly disciplined structure. It must be treated with respect, or interpreted in a respectful manner.” For the artist behind “Soirs de Paris”, the structure evokes the future of the ’fifties, modernity, and, especially, Modern Art. “I positioned the Atomium in the manner of a Calder stabile in the grounds of a Foundation similar to the Fondation Maeght in St Paul de Vence. It’s my way of associating it with modern art, much in the way that one would contemplate the vista of a Japanese garden.”