"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fred Patten Reviews The Ancient Book of Myth and War

The Ancient Book of Myth and War
Author: Scott Morse, Lou Romano, Don Shank, and Nate Wragg
Publisher: Red Window/AdHouse Books
ISBN 10: 0-9774715-1-9
ISBN 13: 978-0-9774715-1-5

The four artists whose paintings compose this glossy hardcover 80-page art book/folio are young but veteran comic book creators and animation studio artists. All have recently worked or still work at Pixar Animation Studios as sketch artists and designers.

In these 35 full-color experimental works (although a few are monochromatic), the four artists “each take a personal approach to their myths and heroes. Their stories include retellings of ancient myths as well as the creation of new legends” (from the Introduction by Harley Jessup).

All four work in modern art forms, from abstract to impressionistic. Scott Morse’s bold paintings illustrate specific classic myths (the Deluge, the Golem of Prague, Oedipus Rex, Finn MacCoul, scenes from Native American folklore) and more general scenes of “war” (a Wild West barroom brawl, a modern urban “The Battle of Algiers”). Lou Romano’s surrealistic works are more generic scenes of Greek history and mythology; “Spartan”, “Trojan Horse”, “War Monster”. “Zeus”, “Perseus & Medusa”. Nate Wragg has created a cartoon ancient soldier, “Pathetos the Warrior’, and painted him in battles around the world against “The Deep Sea Hydra”, “Yeti”, “Cyclops”, “Demonic Centaurides”, “The Ancient Fire Sasquatch” and more. Don Shank, the most varied artist, has created his own myths and battles (“Orange Goddess”, “Fight”, “Map of the First Galactic War”, “Archway Usher” “Stab”) in paintings that range from Dali-esque “realism” to pure abstractionism.

Each painting, on a right-hand page, is faced with the left-hand page’s artist’s notes, giving the title, description of what the scene represents, and medium. The latter range from “Gouache on watercolor paper” through “Cell vinyl on board” and “Collage” to “Digital”. More and more modern artists, especially those who work in the cartooning industries, are painting entirely in their computers, and it is impossible to tell these works from “hard copy” acrylic or gouache or watercolor works on artboard. The Ancient Book of Myth and War is impressive both as a collection of modernistic fine art, and as a showcase of animation studios’ artists’ personal artistic talents.

1 comment:

Borrego said...

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