Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Lorenzo Mattotti

[click the images for links and/or larger versions]

Last year Chris drew my attention to some brush and ink drawings by the Italian artist Lorenzo Mattotti, thinking they resembled some of my own work. Intrigued, I ordered a copy of one of the few of his comics available in translation, Fires.

A naval officer, Lieutenant Absinthe, is haunted by strange visions concerning the island off which his battleship is anchored, and these have violent consequences. But Fires is all about the visuals rather than any structured narrative. I'm not entirely convinced by some of Mattotti's more mannered, vaguely Futurist-looking drawing, but his use of colour is outstanding. Mattotti cites Werner Herzog and Andrei Tarkovsky as influences, and I can certainly see the connection. Parts of Fires are slightly reminiscent of Tarkovsky's Stalker.

"When you see a film by Tarkovsky or Herzog - the green, the leaves, the clouds - you can't believe it. How can you explain these things in a comic? Is it possible? That was the challenge."

More Mattotti:

František Kupka

The above image, The Yellow Scale, is on the cover of my copy of Joris-Karl Huysman's 1884 novel Against Nature, which I'm reading at the moment, and is attributed to Franz Kupka. Presumably this is the Czech artist František Kupka (1871-1957), but if John Coulthart doesn't know, then I sure as hell don't.

First associated with the Symbolist movement, Kupka worked for a time as an illustrator in Paris, and later became one of the earliest Modernist painters to abandon figuration. The images below are from a somewhat mind-boggling Flickr set of what seems to be mostly Czech art and architecture.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Malcolm Carder

Penguin covers by Malcolm Carder, about whom I can find very little, from this Flickr set.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

The Great God Pan

Illustrations by Austin Osman Spare (1886-1956) from this edition of Arthur Machen's influential 1894 decadent horror novel The Great God Pan, which I'm currently reading. An occultist who briefly got mixed up with Aleister Crowley, Spare devised unique methods of automatic drawing and sigilisation. Alan Moore reckons Spare might be "the closest that England has ever come in finding a successor to the visionary William Blake", yet he seems to have drifted into relative obscurity - even more so than Machen.

More images and info: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7