Jean Giraud, better known as Mœbius, may have passed away in 2012, but he gave his many fans glimpses into his unparalleled artistic imagination right up until the end. In 2010 and 2012, the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain put on Mœbius-Transe-Forme, the first major exhibition in Paris devoted to his work, and one that, at Mœbius’ request, explored “the theme of metamorphosis, a leitmotif that runs throughout his comics, drawings, and film projects” and that presented his work in a variety of ways that even some of his most avid readers, used to experiencing his work only on the page, would never have seen before.
One such way took the form of The Dancing Line, a series of videos which capture Mœbius drawing live on a graphic tablet, offering an artist’s-eye-view into how he transformed a blank digital canvas into a window on the world he spent his career creating. Here we have three selections from the series: at the top we have Mœbius filling in the details on the face of Malvina from The Airtight Garage. Just above, he draws the title character from his even better known comic series Blueberry, the unconventional Western he created with Jean-Michel Charlier. Below, you can watch the creation of a piece called “Inside Mœbius” — not a self-portrait, exactly, but a portrait of the sort of artist that exists in Mœbius’ world drawing a portrait of Mœbius himself.
“Staying alive for an artist means to always be in an unknown part of himself, to be out of himself,” Mœbius told the Los Angeles Times in 2011. “The exhibition in Paris, the theme was transformation. Art is the big door but real life is a lot of small doors that you must pass through to create something new. You don’t always need to go far.” Nobody, artist or otherwise, stays alive forever, but Mœbius knew how, in the time he had, to stay as alive as possible by constantly seeking out those unknown parts. The Dancing Line videos show us how he felt his way through that terra incognita, pointing the way with the expansive body of work he left behind toward all those small doors we, too, must pass through to create something new of our own.
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, and the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future? Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.