raoul sinier

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On the cover of his debut album, Raoul Sinier stares out intensely from the page, looking gaunt and more than a little crazed with his wide eyes and goatee. It is the illustrator/musician's self-portrait. But it isn't complete until you look at the back of the CD. There, Sinier's head-now smiling like a Cheshire cat-has been spliced to reveal the inner workings of his mind. As it happens, these workings involve a mischievous, horned devil playing videogames, and a dominatrix mannequin. Throw in a little frog with a very long tongue and you get a taste of Sinier's ability to blend darkness with silliness in equal measure. "I really love the idea of mixing things together which weren't meant to be mixed," he says. Case in point: Sinier recently participated in the Toyzworld Expo, a Paris-based exhibit in which artists and illustrators design their own doll. Sinier's looks something like a beat-up Cabbage Patch Kid coming home after a street riot.

Inspiration comes from comic book artist Simon Bisley, director Chris Cunningham and photographer Joel-Peter Witkin. But Sinier's style-including his use of stark backgrounds and color-is most directly influenced by the late British master Francis Bacon. Sinier himself received an art education that he says was entertaining but not very useful. In fairness to the French school system, most educators would be hard-pressed to develop a curriculum that nurtured Sinier's polyvalent talents. He works as a freelance web designer to pay the bills, and as an illustrator and musician on his down time, producing under the moniker Ra, a short version of his first name. His electronic, sample-based album, Raoul Loves You, will be released in September by Coredump Records. "I'm happy with this situation," he says. "I don't have to make money off the work I feel most passionately about. This way, I don't have to make compromises."

That no-compromises approach is exactly what has attracted the commercial art world to his work. Sinier has been featured in French magazines such as Onboard, Coda and Art Computer France, and the Canadian magazine Capital. He recently directed and illustrated the music video for the French electronic band called dDamage (see www.ddamage.org). In the video, two characters kidnap Ronnie Rocket-the midget from David Lynch's unproduced script of the same name-and force the little person to create "fresh sounds for our new album" by hooking him up to shock electrodes. Sinier's work can also be seen on Modernista's website.

Sinier's most ambitious endeavor is also his most recent-a 115 page graphic novel written by his girlfriend and partner Sylvie Fr‚tet. "I became so tired of guns, fights, power, and good vs. bad in comic books," he says. "Why must a comic follow those clich‚s? I couldn't stand to see another superhero with a gun." Although Sinier is reluctant to delve into the plot as the writer/illustrator team looks for a publisher, it is safe to say that the average superhero wouldn't dare to tread these grounds. Meanwhile, Sinier's artistic leanings provide a wide-open window into what we can expect from the book. "I like art that's beautiful," he says, "but also weird, disgusting and disturbing."

www.raspage.com

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