- Grégoire Solotareff:France Illustrator
When one makes children's books, one actually makes them first and foremost for oneself, for the child that one was and, wishfully, still is.Grégoire Solotareff
Grégoire Solotareff was born in Egypt in 1953, but moved to France with his family as a child. The Solotareff children were home-schooled. His mother, a painter, encouraged him in art, while his father, a doctor, inspired him to consider medicine. After working as a doctor for five years, Solotareff turned to illustration, publishing his first book in 1985. Since that time, he has regularly published seven to ten books a year, accumulating over 100 titles, while also working in animation and advertising.
Solotareff paints in the primary colors of Matisse and Van Gogh. With a simple palette of red, blue, yellow, and black, he can introduce variations of shade to communicate the humor and irony for which his work is well-known. Large monochromatic surfaces are juxtaposed with precise outlines and suggest multiple interpretations. People are almost always outlined with black. Perspective and shadows that create depth are absent. Shapes are reduced and people and objects are simplified, thus reinforcing their expressiveness. The simplification of forms is not a refusal of normality, but a caricature of reality, thus allowing for a humorous observation of people and things.
The themes of Solotareff's works are strong, too; they are stories about meetings that should not have happened, impossible friendships, stories about lonesome children or magicians who challenge the world of adults. They may have a profound meaning, but they are treated with humor.
The impressions from his childhood in countries of Arabic civilization, the life, colors, and atmosphere of the Middle East, the different origins of his parents, French culture, the images and stories of his mother, the illustrations of Maurice Sendak and Tomi Ungerer, and the great painters of the 20th century - all have influenced the art of Grégoire Solotareff. He has been awarded the Prix de Montreuil (1992) and the Bologna Ragazzi Award (1993), among other awards. He sometimes collaborates with his sister Nadja, an artist with whom he shares a studio in Paris.