With Catherine Meurisse, the countryside becomes a poem. The album Lightness told its reconstruction after the loss of his friends of Charlie Hebdo on 7 January 2015. The cartoonist evokes today his childhood on the bucolic in The Great outdoors . A childhood made up of a thousand scents, of scientific discoveries, of observation, of freedom, playgrounds and huge green. A garden of eden, where the names of the plants sound like the verse of a poetry of pastoral.

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Catherine Meurisse is seven years old, when her parents decide to settle in the countryside, in a farmhouse in ruins in the middle of a desert of pebbles. Her mother plant her first rosebush, the first stone of a future idyllic setting. His father built the walls, and the little girl, accompanied by her sister, creates a museum in the attic where rusty nails, animal droppings or bust stone is the treasure.

Between the fig tree of Rabelais, the rose of Montaigne, or the quotes from Proust, writers to accompany the two children in their wanderings. Not to mention the painters, who by glorifying the nature, offer a trip in the prestigious corridors of their imagination. As for Catherine Meurisse, the great outdoors is not limited to the borders of the real.

The box BD: decryption of the board by the cartoonist Catherine Meurisse

This double page gives meaning to the title of the album, “The Great outdoors”. Catherine Meurisse/ Dargaud

“I grew up in the countryside, in an old house whose garden, in construction, is one of the characters from the album. I love to describe everything that happens in this enclosure protector, containing foods on earth as spiritual. When I crossed the fence, it is to discover the world, and this also is called in particular to the Louvre. This double plank is at the time of this stay in paris, which is something like “the big trip” of the album.

“Arrival at the Louvre, I am very attracted to paintings that represent trees, that are The Fêtes galantes of Watteau, the groves of Fragonard, Poussin, the foliage of Corot, all of this is very present in my memory. These paintings of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth, their lyricism, their poetry, their romance – that is to say, the awakening of self-consciousness in nature, have particularly caught my attention.

“I needed to cross the imaginary of the artists to feel and to perceive better the nature that surrounds me”

“The little girl that I am so going to find among the painters of the greenery that is so familiar. I needed to cross the imaginary of the artists to feel and to perceive better the nature that surrounds me. Marcel Proust said, and his quote with me for a long time: “The only true voyage, this is not to go towards new landscapes, but to have other eyes”, in this case those of the painters.

“I was inspired by a drawing by Fragonard, originally a study of the tree at the blood, a drawing in which the line is colored red ochre. I am drawn into this lush landscape and imposing, tiny, leaning against the bark of a tree, fascinated by the canopy of century-old trees, by the way their branches embrace. I like to make my characters with big nose sets the most prestigious.

The expression of freedom

“the majesty of The trees invites me to contemplation. Enter the imagination of the artists, it is a recognition of this nature that I’ve seen throughout my childhood, a setting that is familiar and reassuring through, intensified, amplified by the free gesture of the artists. It is without doubt that that I have seen for the first time and I liked these paintings: the expression of freedom.

“My vocation was born there. Attending artists at the museum, in books as in a dream, made me realize that drawing could become “serious”, in the sense that it could carry me farther than the daily. I grew up in a world where they meet the vegetation around me, and the one drawn by the artists. And I wanted to do like them.

“This drawing is the embodiment of the reverie. As if the painters gave me permission to dream”

“This double plank gives meaning to the title of the album: The Great outdoors , it is both the nature and the vast territory of the imagination. This drawing is the embodiment of the reverie. As if the painters gave me permission to dream. It is a gate to elsewhere, such as the opening of another book, and I invite the reader to take the time to scrutinize the details. The observation and reverie are momentous.

“Graphically, I changed paper to create this look smokey and reveal the frames that give the experience to the bark, to the leaves. This adds to the sensuality of the drawing and at the same time I remain faithful to Fragonard. I always try to combine the work of artists, who help me to see the world, things that to me are essential, as the nature.”