In 1978, kooky experimental writer and awesome-hair-haver (seriously, check it out) Georges Perec came out with Life: A User’s Manual, a very long and painstakingly detailed novel about everyone and everything in a single Paris apartment building. The concept: take off the façade and you see all the individual lives happening at once, the little, walled-off segments coalescing into one grand scene.
These days, artist Stephane Prigent achieves a similar and equally stunning effect with his drawings except, where he goes, no narrator dares to tread. There is no overarching plot, the characters in his panels don’t even seem to occupy the same time-space continuum. What’s more, the viewer’s natural inclination to forge a complete story out of these fragments is eternally frustrated. There are too many sharp edges and not enough context to ever get a solid grip on what’s happening.
It is a testament to the quality of a particular riddle that anyone should want to solve it. Prigent’s images are so captivating that the mind struggles to make sense of them even when it knows, deep down, that this is impossible. Why does the man with the melted ice cream head shoot black flames into the monochrome rainbow? Why do neon ghouls of varying emotional temperaments wander about their respective wildernesses? We are left without answers, trapped on an exhilarating peak of joy and confusion.