laura perez, the beauty of the invisible

By Carol Arán

There’s a nine year gap between Laura Pérez’s (Valencia, 1983) first paid illustrator job for Penguin Books and the publishing of her first graphic novel as a sole author (Ocultos, Astiberri 2019).
Funnily enough number nine is considered to be magical both in mathematics, numerology and occult sciences. It’s the number that closes cycles, the number of gestation, of inner light and the subtlety of mystery what with it’s capacity to penetrate beyond visible reality. All these qualities tie in perfectly with the theme of Ocultos, a fascinating piece that illustrates the delicate cosmos located between what we see and what is swathed beyond our senses.

Her career speaks of a strong belief in dedication, constant work, bravery and evolution without comfort, following trends, patterns or dramatic effects. She received her training in Spain, France and Canada. Laura has drawn everything and for every audience: children, youngsters and adults, however she excels at drawing people. People’s vital movements, their dreams, what happens to them, how they feel, the places where they live. They come alive from her sketches on paper, often spontaneously drawn in the notebook she usually carries with her, they are later completed digitally, her preferred media over any she used while at Art School. Her love for artistic growth, prior research and an aesthetic taste that draws from the past is palpable be it in a personal project or a commissioned piece. She steeps herself in stories and concepts and passes them though her unique filter, thus creating her own unique vision of reality, demonstrating her artist’s heart that beats throughout her work.

Her body of work encompasses international clients such as The Washington Post, National Geographic or Vanity Fair, as well as local ones such as El País, Anaya or Santillana. Throughout her prolific path, Laura Pérez has exhibited her work in the UK, Morocco, China, Spain, Canada and France and has been awarded six prizes since 2012. Her illustrations have been selected for a number of illustration anthologies such as Reinas de la ilustración española del siglo XX (Norma Editorial), Illustration Now 4 (Taschen) or Ilustradores españoles (Lunwerg), to name but a few. The Spanish comic compilation, De Muerte (Gp Ediciones), has published her work along with that of other artists. She has also teamed up with Pablo Monforte to create a graphic novel called Náufragos (Fnac Salamandra Graphic 2016, Des ronds dans l’O 2018). Undoubtedly, though it may be a cliché, her latest work is the most personal of them all.

Ocultos is an intensely contemporary piece, with its clean lines, digital finishing and serene, simple and precise illustration. By balancing resources very precisely without using masks or tricks, she expresses the indescribable. Laura’s usual pop realism stretches beyond time in this book which manifests itself as a universal piece that exudes an unmistakable classic aroma. Her pages take us back to last century, evoking the surrealist and magical mindset of artists like Maruja Mallo, Leonora Carrington or Dorothea Tanning. Just like her predecessors, Laura composes stories, thoughts and sensations around the fine line that separates reality from dreamscapes, the tangible from the intangible. The beauty of the enigma is the visual theme that ties it all together. An apparently fragile beauty that hides the solid but delicate strength of a silent warrioress who draws ghosts, extraterrestrial beings and witches travelling on an astral initiation journey. This graphic novel is hard to classify since comic and illustration merge in intriguing and mysterious visions which attract both illustrated book lovers and admirers of the occult alike.

Ocultos weaves all of the author’s influences together. Film, music, animation, science-fiction, esoterism and everyday stories are all intertwined in a compact and fluid fabric that unsettles and caresses in equal measure. It affords us an exquisite and hypnotic offering that marks a turning point in the author’s career, a before and after in the maturation of her own universe a moment of inflection in her search of the beauty of the invisible. It’s no coincidence that Ocultos shines with the light of number nine.

Laura Pérez will be giving a workshop called “Creating Universes” at Donde Doré on the 17th, 18th and 19th of January (2020).