Upcoming Exhibition

Cosey

12.11.2022 — 12.3.2023

CMB Cosey 2021

© Cosey 2021

With his realistic, wonderfully confident line work in the internationally renowned comic series Jonathan, comics artist Cosey from Western Switzerland takes us on journeys – through the breathtaking expanses of Asian, North American and European landscapes, and into his protagonists’ inner workings. In 1950, Cosey was born (as Bernard Cosendai) into a family from the USA in Lausanne, so he has always been confronted with questions of identity and belonging. Today, Cosey is one of the most important European comics artists who, initially against the backdrop of the cultural upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s, have enhanced the comic for an adult audience, with sophisticated themes and literary aspirations.

After an apprenticeship in graphic design, Cosey worked from 1970 as an assistant and colourist for his idol, the artist Derib from Western Switzerland. In 1975, he started to draw for the Belgian magazines Tintin and Spirou, and launched his long-running series Jonathan, whose final album appeared in 2021. ‘Souviens-toi’, the first volume in this 16-part series, takes the main protagonist, the dropout Jonathan, to the Himalayas on a search for his childhood sweetheart, Saïcha of Tibet. In this and the following 16 stories in the series, the focus is not solely on the adventures of Cosey’s alter ego Jonathan, but also on the complexly designed main characters’ search for meaning, as well as their philosophical and spiritual questions. The artist incorporates his own travel experiences, along with references to literature, film and music, while also linking the plot to political facts, such as China’s occupation of Tibet.

Besides his magnum opus, Cosey has also published highly acclaimed one-shot albums, such as ‘À la Recherche de Peter Pan’, ‘Le Voyage en Italie’, ‘Joyeux Noël, May’, ‘Zeke raconte des Histoires’ and the atypical ‘Une mystérieuse mélodie où Comment Mickey rencontra Minnie’: a Disney-authorised comic album entirely in the style of Floyd Gottfredson, the most legendary Mickey Mouse illustrator.

In 2017, the International Comics Festival in Angoulême awarded Cosey the Grand Prix for his life’s work. Cartoonmuseum Basel is honouring this multi-award-winning artist’s oeuvre in a retrospective – the first in the German-speaking world. It encompasses original drawings, including pages from the latest and final volume of Jonathan, as well as sources of inspiration, photographs, sketchbooks and films.