Monday, September 04, 2006

Book-A-Day #46 (9/1): Fairies by Yoshitaka Amano

Another art book, this time one I picked up at Worldcon (if that matters). Amano is a Japanese artist who apparently is a big deal over there (he's Artist GOH at next year's Yokohama Worldcon), but is probably best known in the English-speaking world for illustrating Sandman: The Dream Hunters.

This book is a collection of paintings (and a few small works in pen) along with text (presumably by Amano himself, and translated by Carmellia Nieh) about fairies from the British Isles. They're mostly from folklore, with a few bits from Arthurian legend and Shakespeare.

Amano's art is (I think) all executed in watercolor, often over pen lines; there's generally a delicacy and transparency of color, particularly in the figures. In fact, many of the fairie figures (generally the larger, human-sized ones, particularly when female) don't seem to be painted at all, but left as negative white space, defined by a few faint pen lines and the colors surrounding them.

Some of the pieces (mostly the first few pages, all from A Midsummer Night's Dream) are too busy for their own good, and the negative-space figures, supposedly the focus of the art, are very hard to pick out. But it settles down after that, and it's a nice collection of art. It compares interestingly to the similar works of Brian Froud and Alan Lee; Amano is coming at the legends as an outsider (and one from a very different artistic tradition), but his fairies don't look vastly different to my eye.

This book was probably more new and exciting to a Japanese audience (where Amano would have been introducing many of these characters, ideas and themes), but it's still a nice book of fairie art here.

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