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From 24 september till 18 december 2023

Raymond (Ray) Gilles was born on 15 June 1923 in Leuven, so he would have turned 100 this year. No better occasion than to highlight the work of one of the most important Belgian cartoonists of all time.


Gilles started his artistic career as a painter. It was only when he started working as an illustrator in the mid-fifties that he was noticed by journalist and promotor of cartoon art, Gaston Durnez. That meeting was the beginning of a career at the daily newspaper 'De Standaard', where Gilles drew small sketches to brighten up the grey text columns, and opened the doors to the cartoon world.


His big breakthrough as a cartoonist came in the early 1960s. He won several awards at the national and international level during that period. In 1965, at the world's reputed (and oldest) cartoon festival Bordighera, he received a prestigious prize from Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro. His cartoons were regularly exhibited and even featured in an exhibition of Flemish Cartoonists in South Africa. Gilles' work was particularly popular in Scandinavia and Germany.  From 1967 to 1976, Ray Gilles also did the cover of the catalogue with the selected works of the international Knokke-Heist cartoon contest.


With his highly refined graphic style, Gilles undoubtedly took the cartoon to the next level in the 1960s. He knew how to combine minimalist, clean lines with folds and curls like no other. The figures he drew had striking eyes and noses and elongated pliable fingers. His humour was never harsh, but rather subtle and witty, sometimes a little cynical.


The exhibition at the European Cartoon Centre brings together some 80 cartoons Ray Gilles made in the 60s and 70s.

As part of the celebrations to mark 100 years of Ray Gilles, the book 'Signed Ray Gilles' by Jeroen Van der Auwera and François Van der Jeught will be published in mid-September. In addition to the exhibition of cartoons at the European Cartoon Centre, Gilles' paintings will be exhibited in Mechelen.


You can visit the exhibition of his works at the ECC from 24 september till 17 december 2023, every Sunday from 10 to 12 and from 14 to 17h.