I really, truly love the way Gree contrasts complexity with simplicity, quiet with loud.
Basic geometric forms oscillate wildly in size to create vast, stoic white-spaces or tiny, intimate details at their intersection, creating a kind of spaced-out, loosely kaleidoscopic patterning.
This quasi-scientific, modernist drafting approach is offset by the shaky, organic quality of his line-work (you can almost feel the motion of his arm as he runs his pen lovingly down the paper). Gree’s conflation of organics and mathematics reminds me of another hero of mine by the name of Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
In like-fashion, his application of colour can sneakily glide from subtle, muted pastels to hit with a surprise burst of psychedelic neons within the same frame. Gree’s use of texture follows a similar template – broad areas seem minimalist and devoid of activity, but break into organic kaleidoscopes of pattern whenever he wants to describe details.
This tension between harmony and discord somehow manages to suggest a sense of adult menace beneath the playful, childlike surface of his illustrations… a perfect approach to children’s storytelling… we all know how kids like to be menaced within safe limits!
Alain Gree was better-known for his ‘designerly’ modernist illustrations for children’s books and board games, which are more cutesy, sanitised and even more geometric – I can’t say I’m a such a fan of these, but recognise his immense skill.