Aaron Peck is the author of The Bewilderments of Bernard Willis and Jeff Wall: North & West. He currently lives in Paris.

Follow Aaron Peck on Twitter: @peck_aaron.

NYR DAILY

Gus Bofa’s Low-Life Art

Illustration by Gus Bofa from the new translation of Pierre Mac Orlan's Mademoiselle Bambú, published by Wakefield Press, 2018

Gus Bofa’s drawings suggest the existential darkness that overtook a Europe defaced by war and modernization. The illustrations he made for Mac Orlan’s moody novel of espionage Mademoiselle Bambù—of spies, prostitutes, sailors, and drifters—compliment the tale of a web of interconnected characters as they circulated around Europe’s port cities, a depiction of the dark unease of the early twentieth century. Bofa’s contributions appear in rough black and white, sketch-like, as if somehow disappearing into themselves. In these drawings, his style is dark, almost resembling the aesthetics of film noir, though at times it is also goofy or playful.