In the Belgian village ‘Boechout’ known for its ‘George van Raemdonckkartoenale’ there is at this moment an exhibition of the Luxemburg cartoonist ‘Pol Leurs’.
A lot of Belgian cartoonists came to say hello to Pol: his good friend Norbert Van Yperzeele of course, Stefaan Provijn, Luc Vernimmen, Bert Van Oystaeyen, Paulo, Jan Dufour, Latem, Emiel De Bolle and organizers Herman Somers and Ronald Van Oystaeyen.
I had the honor to make an inaugurational speech. That I like to share with you (in short):
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a real honor for me to present you today the Great Luxemburg cartoonist Pol Leurs.
I know Pol for over 30 years, admitted I still was a little girl at that moment. And even then I really thought it was a great (and tall) man. I was so proud that he, this great cartoonist, the winner of the Euro-kartoenale ‘Agriculture’ came to get his prize in Kruishoutem.
Pol started his career as a cartoonist at the age of seven. Even if this is what he really likes he chooses for a professional career as an engineer. It was his brother in law who insisted to do something with that incredable talent for drawing and so it happened, that in the seventies, Pol drew a weekly cartoon for the magazien ‘Revue’.
At that moment it is rather clear for Pol. He does not want to be a political cartoonist. He likes his independance, he just want to make some pretty amusing drawings. So it was a logical decision to take part in international cartoon contests. His first participation (Berlin) in 1980 was good for a prize and in 1983 he won our Euro-kartoenale in Kruishoutem. It was the beginning of a long career.
And than Pol disappears from the radar, the cartoon scene did not hear anything anymore about Pol Leurs. Till 2006 when we saw him back in Knokke-Heist. It was the start of a great friendship and we could say that Pol and his family are a part of the great ECC-family now.
The past years Pol did win a lot of international prizes and is one of the greatest cartoonists in the world. In 2008 he also won the first prize, here in Boechout.
I wondered if the work of Pol now is different from his work in the eighties?
Well I could say: yes and no. His first cartoons were as most cartoons in those days, black and white. Pol learned to work with aquarel and so his work got more and more variations of colours.
But at the same time I see a lot of similarities between his early work and the more recent cartoons: simple cartoons, starting from day tot day objects and universal themes as cars, travelling, art, pets or doors …
You should have noticed it allready: Pol does draw a lot of doors. In dream interpretation theories this could refer to: ‘seeing new opportunities’ or ‘closing some chapters in your personal life’ or ‘a inner search for yourself’.
We asked Pol himself and his interpretation was rather practical:
‘First of all: doors are a necessairy object in life, without doors we would live in a different world. Secundly: it is much easier to draw a door than every other object. Normally it takes me 6 hours to make a cartoon, if it is one with doors I can finish it in three hours.’
So my conclusion is clear: never try to analyse a cartoonist by his cartoons.
An other similarity between the cartoons of the eighties and recent work of Pol is the idea. It is always a reflection about simple things that happen in life, with a unexpected twist that leads to really absurd situations. This rather simple, uncomplecated humor makes everyone simply smile.
It should be wrong to say that the early works of Pol are full of details. But you can see that Pol simplified his drawing, he gets rid of all what is unnecessary. By leaving out all details, our attention goes directly to the idea, to what is essential in the cartoon. But that does not mean that the gag can not have more complex layers.
In Pol’s work nothing is coincidental, every cartoon is the result of a big reflection. The preparation is very important and takes more time than making the drawing itself. Everything does have to be correct and to be in balance: the perspective, the colours, the sizes of the persons and the idea of course.
You could say there are different kinds of cartoonists: cartoonists were the gag prevails and ones this idea is invented the drawing must be put on paper as fast as possible. And you have cartoonists as Pol, who will not sent any cartoon to a contest before, for himself, it is 100% perfect.
According to Pol you will not become a good cartoonist because you are talented alone, it needs hard work and a continuous need to improve yourself.
So we could say that the success of Pol can be attributed to his great quality to observe things, his talent for drawing and also to his accuracy and perfectionism. But I think, by looking at the works of Pol Leurs, his success can first off all be explained because he is able to draw a funny idea on a very simple and esthetical way. In such a way that it makes us smile. It are really funny cartoons and I hope you will enjoy them.
More information on the exhibition:
The website of Pol Leurs: http://www.poleurs.lu/