99 portraits

is my visual response to Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, a book in which the author retells the same short story in 99 different ways. I read the book, but what exactly had I read? For with each variation, the notion of a single story faded ever more into the background. The real story existed in the variations as a whole. I wondered if I could do something similar in pictorial form.
foto van tekening in verf portret van Raymond Queneau
Thus began my series of drawn “exercises”, based on a portrait of the author. These exercises in style became exercises not only in style, but in drawing and looking. There are certainly more than 99 ways of making a face.
foto van getekend portret Queneau met lijm op doorzichtig papier

Original portrait


Photo of Queneau shot by Man Ray in 1925, and which I stumbled upon online in a catalogue for an auction.



Name of the group co-founded by Queneau in 1960. Oulipo, short for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, translates as a “workshop of potential literature”. The Oulipians imposed constraints on themselves and their writing in order to explore the possibilities of literature.

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