Lou Bensch

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Art Illustration

Vibrant Hybrid Figures Emerge in Lou Benesch’s Spiritual Watercolor Illustrations

February 8, 2023

Grace Ebert

A vibrant watercolor work of a woman on a spotted horse

“Liminal Waltz.” All images © Lou Benesch, shared with permission

Fantastic creatures with keen attitudes and fragments of human anatomy occupy the vivid watercolor illustrations of Lou Benesch. From her studio in Paris, the French-American artist visualizes the characters that populate folklore, Greek myths, and classic fairytales through distinctive renderings of animal hybrids. Muscular spotted horses, shaggy wolf costumes, and a seemingly omnipresent third eye populate the surreal compositions, which are often framed by small archways and minimal backdrops.

Because Benesch gravitates toward narrative, much of her practice is an act of translation. When starting an illustration, she forgoes sketches and instead writes ideas down before picking up a pencil or brush. She might reflect on memories from her childhood, dreams, or larger, more philosophical questions about what it means to be a woman or the role spirituality plays in her life and that of others, and these narratives shape her scenes. “Whether they are mine, yours, or an entire population’s, mythologies and stories of all kinds are so important as a means of communication, connection, and appeasement,” she said in an interview.

If you’re in Los Angeles, you can see Benesch’s work as part of a group exhibition at Hashimoto Contemporary this February, and she has a few pieces on view at Antler Gallery in Portland, as well. Find originals and prints in her shop, and follow her practice on Instagram.


A vibrant watercolor work of a eyes growing out of a headless horse

“The Angel”

A vibrant watercolor work of a woman's face emerging from clovers that grow out of a creature's eye

“The Stars”

A vibrant watercolor work of a woman surrounding by birds and cheetah

“The Palace”

A vibrant watercolor work of a woman disguised as a wolf

“The Dress”

A vibrant watercolor work of a woman on a spotted horse

“The Snow”

A vibrant watercolor work of an ox with a third eye

“Rising Waters”

A vibrant watercolor work of a bird falling and several eyes

“The Fire”