Saturday, March 19, 2011

100 Months

Gruesome imagery has never really appealed to me. Not that I am ignorant to the unpleasant things in life, but I have always found drawings of mutilated bodies or demonic creatures to be about shock value. They're nightmare inducing and aversive to my eye.

But when I spotted '100 Months' one day whilst perusing the shelves of a bookstore, I was instantly captivated. The grotesque artwork had a poetic flow to it and I found myself turning the slick pages.

I was acutely aware of being watched by bookstore staff. I'm not one to browse without buying so I flipped the book over and choked a little at the price. It simply didn't suit my budget at the moment, but I knew I'd not forget the title and made a mental note to look it up and order it online when I got home.

Yesterday I took the overground from Vauxhall to Wimbledon, walked fifteen minutes in a classic London mizzle, and collected my package from the post office. I took it home, unwrapped it and resumed my slow examination of the pages within.

I've found several reviews of this book online, most of them about the controversial choice for the author to take his own life following the completion of it. Due to a diagnosis of MS he felt assisted suicide was the best option for him and this work was to be his final gift to the world.

But the one review which stands out the most to me was one which states that the writing in the work was described to be as much a part of the art as the drawings.

The words and imagery, dark and rich in texture, are set on stark white pages. The contrast of light and dark, red, black and white, is compelling. The flow of the art, of the creature/demon/goddess the story centres around is a wonder to gaze on. I was eager to study the images closer, to see the choice of medium. My initial guess when looking at the book in the shop had been gouache. I was trying not to study it too closely, however, so I rushed putting it back. My curiosity has now been satiated.

The entire thing is ink. From fine black ink lines to broad felt strokes for the almost grey pallor of skin. The red seems to be airbrushed, the speckles and sprays almost resembling spray paint. Studying the detail I am convinced that the original drawings must have been on a significantly larger scale. But how large? And on what surface?

I'm not yet done examining and reading this work. I'm savouring it, enjoying each page, the way one creature flows into another, every line seems to be connected and the words weave throughout. It is both fluid and sharp, jagged and liquid, brooding and inspirational. In a word, it is admirable.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Express yourself here
criticize constructively
I am receptive