CM . . . . Volume XV Number 21. . . .June 12, 2009.
Marek Colek & Pat Shewchuk.
Montreal, PQ: Drawn & Quarterly, 2008.
116 pp., pbk., $16.99.
Folk literature-Czech-Pictorial works.
Folk literature, Ukrainian-Pictorial works.
Tales in art.
Legends in art.
Grades 7 and up / Grades 7 and up.
Review by Sylvia Pantaleo.
According to the text on the back cover, Pohadky means “folk tales” or “storybook.” However, this book is not a storybook in the conventional or traditional sense. The book is an assemblage of visual images reflecting the influence of each creator’s cultural background. Colek’s interest in Czech Republican folklore and Shewchuk’s fascination with the symbols and pictography of pre-Christian Ukrainian decorative folk arts are apparent in both the content of the visual images and the use of art elements.
The book is wordless, but an index provides information about most of the artwork in the book. Black and white symbols are presented on many of the left-hand pages. Juxtaposed to these icons are images of various entities, many of them archetypical in nature. For example, the crone, the soldier, and Death appear on several pages. The creators vary the point of view by zooming in or out on some images over two or three or even four pages. Some images are created in muted colour and others are depicted in black, white and shades of grey. On some pages, the artwork is framed by a white border and on other pages, the colours bleed to three edges; there are even a few double-page spread illustrations that are full bleeds. The artwork is thought-provoking, most of the images have a certain tension or edginess to them, and a few pages of artwork are somewhat spooky and unnerving. Although some of the images are connected, the book is very indeterminate in nature and requires multiple readings to appreciate the imagery and its disorderly presentation by Colek and Shewchuk.
Colek and Shewchuk run Tin Can Forest, an independent art, animation and design studio based in Toronto.
Sylvia Pantaleo teaches Language Arts in the Faculty of Education, the University of Victoria, Victoria, BC.
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