Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Beatrice Alemagna

Beatrice Alemagna has a new book out!

Published by Editions Autrement, it is entitled La Gigantesque Petite Chose. Half poem, half riddle, it is about that enormous but tiny thing* (so hard to define) that we all look for in our different ways. It comes and it goes, it is never where you expect it to be, it is small and fragile and brief and evanescent—and yet looms so large in all our lives. A very beautiful book.

To mark the occasion, there was a one-woman show of her work at Galerie Autrement— called, of course, La gigantesque petite expo — where she was also present for a book signing.  I went along to the opening.

There were many small pieces and a few larger ones, as well as some objects and a few posters.
There were also these shaped paintings, like the one below. Painted on a raw linen canvas, unprimed, unstretched and cut to silhouette, these larger-than-life characters were my favourites!
It was very nice to chat with her for a bit...
...she wrote such a nice dedicace—with a small drawing too! I love it.
Grazie, Beatrice!!
image found on Carnet Imaginaire

PS. Those of you who are in Paris, the show can be seen for another week at Galerie Autrement, 77 rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine, 75011 Paris. They're open Monday through Friday 10:00 to 6:00. (I would call first...)

PPS. Here is a fine little interview with Beatrice, if you want to know more.

*Hint:  "Cette petite chose invisible, et gigantesque pourtant, qu'un jour quelqu'un a appelée bonheur..."

11/7/11, LATE-BREAKING UPDATE:  I just came across this video interview with Beatrice (via Annagrazie!), and I just had to add it to this post.  Very illuminating... enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tales of India

I have just been informed that my illustration has been selected for Sàrmede's upcoming exhibition, "Le Immagini della Fantasia".
It is one I created while I was at the workshops last summer, under the tutelage of Svjetlan Junakovich.

The theme this year is "Tales of India" and illustrators from all over the world will be participating, including: Philip Giordano, Tom Schamp, Clotilde Perrin, Aurelia Fronty, Sherley Freudenreich and many many others (click here for the full line-up).  This year's guest of honour is lovely Linda Wolfsgruber.  And furthermore, Simone Rea has created this year's display of "How a book is born" ("Como nasce un libro illustrato") — in which he creates several large panels describing (in both images and words) the steps that went into making his most recent book "Favole" ("Aesop's Fables"). These are always included in the Sàrmede annual.

Best of all:  another road trip to Italy when I was least expecting it!! WOO-HOO!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sàrmede, again

Following on from my last entry, here's a quick postscript with a little bit more about the teachers — and the students — of Sàrmede.

Linda Wolfgruber's work (like this image above, from  Finn's Land) is expressive, refined and full of wonderful surprises.

Her spare and evocative compositions allow enough room for your  imagination to enter and find its own way...

I especially love these skating ducks!

Svjetlan Junakovic is prolific and exuberant...
Have a look at his site, and this nice write-up from Animalarium
He has recently begun to make these sculptures, too.

As for the former students,  many of the people who have been taught at Sarmede's workshops  have blossomed into some of the best illustrators of the up-and-coming generation.  To see a few (there are many more, obviously — and many yet to come!), look here:

Simone Rea (who studied with Linda)

Violeta Lopiz (who studied with both Linda and Jozef Wilkon)

Adolfo Serra

and the incomparable Beatrice Alemagna....

....who took courses taught by Stepan Zavrel himself, back when the workshops were held in Zavrel's house.

How lucky can you get!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sàrmede in summer

I spent part of last summer at the art workshops of Sàrmede (pictured in the fresco above, by Jozef Wilkon). For those unfamiliar with it, Sàrmede is in northern Italy, in the hilly region at the foothills of the Dolomites about 70 KM north of Venice. Not the kind of place you'd expect to find an international illustration exhibit —nor, more to the point, a highly respected school of illustration. One way or the other, this calm green corner of Italy attracts artists and students from the world over.
Workshops are held from April to September, covering a good variety of techniques— everything from acrylics and gouache, to watercolour, egg tempera and all kinds of printmaking.  What they all have in common is a focus on some aspect of children's book illustration: storyboarding/visual narrative to making a composition work (graphically, chromatically and otherwise) to character studies.  All the elements of vocabulary needed for the language of illustration. An embarrassment of riches!
I ended up taking two courses, with Linda Wolfsgruber and with Svjetlan Junakovic —both of whom I have long admired as artists, and now appreciate as teachers.  Each one with their own style (both in art and in teaching) they succeed in getting the best out of us students, whether it was in struggles with the medium or in our search for a personal style. I really got a lot out of my time with them!

Mind you, the other teachers there also come highly recommended— including Chiara Carrer, Eva Montanari, Simona Mulazzani, Octavia Monaco, to name but a few: the crème de la crème of children's illustration! If you don't already know their work, do click!!
Svjetlan's workshop focussed on acrylics.  One of the topics for illustration was "Tales from India", which is the theme of this year's exhibit.
In Linda's workshop, the technique focussed upon was printmaking —monoprints, mixed media and collage. The subject was "Rodari and his tales"— using Gianni Rodari's wonderful stories, or his creative approaches (eg, the binomio fantastico) as outlined in La Grammatica della Fantasia (English version here).

In addition to the coursework, we had a few extracurricular treats, including visits from publishers (Andrea Rauch from Principi e Principi, and earlier in the season Topipittori).  We also got to see a mesmerizing documentary film (directed by Karl Bachmann) about Stepan Zavrel, the wonderful Czech illustrator who founded the school /exhibit.  And best of all, we had our end-of-term party at Stepan Zavrel's magical home— unforgettable!!
All in all,  these workshops had an atmosphere just fizzing with energy and enthusiasm and concentration, much more intense than art school. More than one person remarked that it was like being in another dimension...

And of course, you learn a lot from the other students — the people I was with came from as far afield as Tblisi, Sao Paolo, Vienna, Bangkok, Barcelona, Wales, as well as all over Italy (there were up to 7 languages flying around at any given moment!). Ranging from 19 to 70 years old, with all kinds of experiences:  published book illustrators, seasoned print-makers, art students, teachers, graphic designers... the lot!  There was a real esprit de corps — an atmosphere of camaraderie and generous exchange.  For those of us in this solitary profession, it comes as a real source of energy.

I'll be back, Sàrmede!

PS.  If you want to see more photos, look here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

La rentrée

I'm back!!  ... did you miss me?

During my summer break, I did a bit of traveling; I participated in some art workshops; I've been attending to some deadlines (both work and otherwise).  Also, I wanted to refrain from putting things into words for a while, the better to savour and absorb my new experiences.

All in all, I had a wonderful summer — really really refreshing.  Details will follow in future blog posts — very soon, I promise!

How was your summer?