Tag Archives: laurence king publishing

Advance Review: Kusama

Kusama

There is something uniquely wonderful and out of the ordinary about artists. They’re spirits as if they are butterflies just leaving their cocoon every time they create. Most who have never met artists never truly understand the creative process. I remembered watching a recent conversation with Kevin Costner where he talked about acting in general but also the creative process.

His description of the internal battles that an artist goes through to put out exceptional work was poignant. The ebb and flow in an artist’s brain is one that cannot be truly contextualized. As that is why most artists are called “mad” because the outside world cannot comprehend their way of thinking. In Elisa Macellari’s excellent Kusama, we meet Japan’s version of Van Gogh, a modern visionary whose dreamscapes the world only started to grasp.

We’re taken to 1939 Matsumoto, we meet a young Kusama, who is enjoying the outdoors. As her “third eye” is much more open to most as she hears voices within the flowers she lays next to, eventually even if the family dog starts talking to her. She understands instantly that it’s an out of body experience, she would start draw and paint so that she may be a vessel for her obsessions. And thus begins the vivid graphic biography of the Japanese icon. It charts her being embraced by the New York art scene in the 1960s and her eventual return home where she found further fame.

The graphic novel looks at the turmoil with her family and finding her voice in New York City where she signed her first contract with an art gallery. It also takes us through her art style as it grows and leads into what some consider “perverse,” leading to her experimentation in the 1960s and friendship with Andy Warhol. But, it’s her legacy the graphic novel leaves you with.

Overall, an excellent and ambitious retelling of this still enigmatic but important imaginative. The story by Elisa Macellari is hopeful and spectacular. The art by Macellari is gorgeous. Altogether a book that just scratches the surface why Kusama is so important aesthetics the world over.

Kusama is out in September 2020.

Story: Elisa Macellari Art: Elisa Macellari
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Graphic Policy was provided with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: Amazon

Review: Basquiat

Basquiat

When one thinks of genius, often it’s associated with the great minds like Aristotle and Socrates. Most often we reserve this title to people who have changed thought in the literal sense. Few seem to use it for art. Mozart was a genius. His music has transcended time and space. It still affects people the same way as when his pieces were first played. You can even look at Leonardo Da Vinci’s murals, and be in awe for hours at how majestic his pieces were.

One such artist whose pieces are still talked about is the wunderkind, Jean-Michel Basquiat. A man whose brilliance as a street artist was more than enough for the mainstream art world to take notice and whose art inspired a new generation of artists. As for his story, outside of a biopic starring a then unknown Jeffrey Wright, whose life was marred by vultures at every corner, looking to take a bite of his light. In Paolo Parisi’s Basquiat, we get a more concise telling of his life and ultimately, his demise.

The graphic novel opens with Mr. Gerard Basquiat, Jean-Michel’s father’s door being knocked on by the NYPD who is there to ask him to identify Jean-Michel’s body, as he has just overdosed on drugs. His father, Gerard’s first memories is not when Jean-Michel was a newborn, but when his marriage fell apart, and when he got to really know his children, especially Jean-Michel. We see that he was an avid artist from a young age, often drawing, everything, from novels to comic books, to people. An accident when he was a child, truly expanded his mind, as a doctor gave him a copy of Gray’s Anatomy. It was a book that showed him endless possibilities.

The graphic novel takes his through the highs and lows of Basquit’s life. From his running away to his first television appearance and his eventual discovery by the world that lead to his fame. There’s also an exploration of the disparity between how black artists and white artists are seen by the world at large leading to race trumping aesthetic.

With the highs, there’s the lows as well such as his contentious relationship with Andy Warhol and the eventual consumption of drugs and heavy partying that would take his life.

Overall, an engrossing chronicle of one of the world’s most celebrated artists, one gone too soon. The story by Paolo Parisi is heartbreaking, epic and intense. The art by Parisi is very much in the spirit of its subject, giving the reader a surreal kaleidoscopic vision. Altogether, a biography of an artist whose story has not been given justice until now with Parisi’s deft hands and vision.

Story: Paolo Parisi Art: Paolo Parisi
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy


Purchase: AmazonKindleBookshopTFAW

Review: Pollock Confidential: A Graphic Novel

Pollock Confidential: A Graphic Novel

When it comes to character actors, they rarely get their due unless they play against less talented ones. Case and point, take actor Michael Kelly whose onscreen presence was a firm and steady had in House Of Cards. He parlayed that onto other roles, most recently, the last season of Jack Ryan. His even-tempered performance can be seen in other actors of his time, more specifically the recently deceased Irrfan Khan.

Another actor, whose performances are so even-keeled yet polarizing, is Ed Harris. Fans will know him from his role in Westworld but I remember first seeing him in Field Of Dreams. Though he has acted in many projects, the one that I felt somehow connected to him was his portrayal of Jackson Pollack in Pollack, where he showed the late artist’s genius, unconventional nature, and vision, and showcased Harris as a chameleon much like the man he portrayed. This is why when I found out Onofrio Catacchio was writing a book about this enigmatic visionary, in Pollock Confidential, I was more than elated, as he probes more into the artist’s story than Harris was able to.

We’re taken to 1974 Rome, where we meet Dan Adkins, a Cultural Attache from the US Embassy, who is meeting with Palma Bucciarelli, the director of Rome’s National Gallery of Art, where they are discussing the loaning of one of Pollack’s pieces for a period of time. We are taken even further back in time to 1948 New York, where we find out that the CIA had a program where they promoted abstract expressionism and American art across the world to ensnare themselves in foreign territories known as “Operation Long Leash”. As they looked at abstract expressionists like Pollack to be their key to immersing themselves in other countries. As we find out that Adkins, is actually a CIA agent, and he is one of the first operatives to recruit artists like Pollack, as his dossier on the artist shows the reader that he was thought to be an alcoholic,  a Communist sympathizer and a lover of jazz. He would eventually catch the attention of Peggy Guggenheim, a wealthy heiress who had a passion for art and even owned a gallery called “Art of the Century”, where he would open up his first exhibit, where he would paint his first milestone piece, “Mural”. Adkins would closely monitor not only Jackson but his wife, Lee, while at the same time becoming a fan of his art, as he saw he developed what would become his signature art style, something he would call “dripping”. As his art becomes increasingly unique so did his political leanings as he joined a group of artists known as “The Irascibles”, who were politically minded and stood against detractors of “modern art” like the Metropolitan Museum Of Art’s director. He would eventually be considered the greatest artist of his time, as Adkins would gain his confidence, and get him to speak to everything about his life, from his rural upbringing in Wyoming to even his jail time and how he found his fervor for painting. Before long, Operation Long Leash would end, and Dan would be called back to New York for a different operation. As life went on, so did Pollack, as his art became even more powerful, but so did his vices, as he started drinking again, which would affect his relationship with Lee, which causes her to leave for France on her own. Jackson would move on also, starting a relationship with an art student named Ruth, who one afternoon, was in the car together, along with one of her friends, where they had an unfortunate accident, which killed Jackson and left the two women badly injured. By the book’s end, Adkins still finds himself in a quagmire in the man he came to know because he was the subject of his investigation but who he came to know as his friend.

Overall, a powerful book that gives you answers about the man much like Harris’ motion picture did but also leaves enough mystery for those who have yet to discover this icon. The story by Catacchio is moving, shrouded in mystery, and exciting. The art by Catacchio is enchanting. Altogether, a book that is more than must-read but more, a must-have.

Story: Onofrio Catacchio Art: Onofrio Catacchio
Story: 9.8 Art: 9.9 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Basquiat

Basquiat

When one thinks of genius, often it’s associated with the great minds like Aristotle and Socrates. Most often we reserve this title to people who have changed thought in the literal sense. Few seem to use it for art. Mozart was a genius. His music has transcended time and space. It still affects people the same way as when his pieces were first played. You can even look at Leonardo Da Vinci’s murals, and be in awe for hours at how majestic his pieces were.

One such artist whose pieces are still talked about is the wunderkind, Jean-Michel Basquiat. A man whose brilliance as a street artist was more than enough for the mainstream art world to take notice and whose art inspired a new generation of artists. As for his story, outside of a biopic starring a then unknown Jeffrey Wright, whose life was marred by vultures at every corner, looking to take a bite of his light. In Paolo Parisi’s Basquiat, we get a more concise telling of his life and ultimately, his demise.

The graphic novel opens with Mr. Gerard Basquiat, Jean-Michel’s father’s door being knocked on by the NYPD who is there to ask him to identify Jean-Michel’s body, as he has just overdosed on drugs. His father, Gerard’s first memories is not when Jean-Michel was a newborn, but when his marriage fell apart, and when he got to really know his children, especially Jean-Michel. We see that he was an avid artist from a young age, often drawing, everything, from novels to comic books, to people. An accident when he was a child, truly expanded his mind, as a doctor gave him a copy of Gray’s Anatomy. It was a book that showed him endless possibilities.

The graphic novel takes his through the highs and lows of Basquit’s life. From his running away to his first television appearance and his eventual discovery by the world that lead to his fame. There’s also an exploration of the disparity between how black artists and white artists are seen by the world at large leading to race trumping aesthetic.

With the highs, there’s the lows as well such as his contentious relationship with Andy Warhol and the eventual consumption of drugs and heavy partying that would take his life.

Overall, an engrossing chronicle of one of the world’s most celebrated artists, one gone too soon. The story by Paolo Parisi is heartbreaking, epic and intense. The art by Parisi is very much in the spirit of its subject, giving the reader a surreal kaleidoscopic vision. Altogether, a biography of an artist whose story has not been given justice until now with Parisi’s deft hands and vision.

Story: Paolo Parisi Art: Paolo Parisi
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy