22 November 2001
On Thursday night, 22 November 2001, Galerie Lambiek proudly opened the exhibition 'Mark Retera hangs in Lambiek', as an exuberant feeling of hilarity filled the holy halls of our renowned institute.
Until the end of January 2002, anyone could come and see with their own eyes why 'DirkJan' is the funniest Dutch comic-strip series these days. A behind-the-scenes look at 'Dirkjan' was also possible, since in addition to loads of original drawings from 'DirkJan', many caricatures and free works of artist Mark Retera were on show as well.
It was in his student days that Mark Retera (Eindhoven, 1964) first moved a pen on paper. Soon after he moved from Nijmegen student papers to more professional outlets such as SUM, Sjosji and the national daily newspaper Algemeen Dagblad. Retera's spot-on caricatures of politicians and sports personalities are published in Panorama mens magazine. Things really started to get going for Retera, by that time a fully licensed cognition scientist, with his comics series 'DirkJan' - about a bony "eternal student" who has to cope incessantly with women, pizza-runners, midgets and his worst enemy, himself.
It is with 'DirkJan' that Retera proves to be the king of absurdities à la Monty Python or Gary Larson's The Far Side. Anyone who can read a 'DirkJan' comic book without at least smiling, must be from another planet. This was also the opinion of the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts jury, which awarded Retera the prestigious Dirk Wiardaprize in September 2001. The opening of the exposition at Lambiek coincided with the publication of the fifth volume of 'DirkJan'.