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by Diana Bychkova.
Years of creation: 2004 – 2007
This is a series of 13 miniatures, double-page illustrations, which accompany my fairy tale of the same title.
Size of original pencil drawings: 31.7 x 48 cm
Size of paper: 42.5x60 cm
The Italian folk fairy tales, in an adaptation by Italo Calvino, served as inspiration for such a project. Having read many fairy tales, I started to comment visually on the characters, one by one, without connecting the drawings to any specific text, but adhering to a general fantastic style. In order to immerse into the topic, I also did some research: I studied fairy tale elements and their graphical representation in medieval European books, the page ornamentation and its intersection with handwritten text, and how the text intertwines and transforms into vegetable elements to become the heads and tails of fantastic beasts.
Thus, such a project grew up from both the creative word-picture interpretation of fairy tales and the theoretical study.
Thirteen large sheets appeared that were entirely filled with fairy tale characters. My artistic purpose was to create passages between different temporal and spatial dimensions.
I tried to achieve the maximum expressivity of image in these pencil drawings by using simple tools: I intentionally limited myself to a B2 pencil, to resist the temptation to use colors or other bright accents. I wanted to achieve vivacity and a picturesque quality in the image by way of the inner strength of the character being represented, without giving this character an external mask but rather playing on the thin gradations of black-gray-white shades.
The drawings were initially planned to be illustrations for a book. However, the contrary happened — rather than illustrating a text, as usually occurs, I had to write a story to fit the completed illustrations, as they were not related to a particular Calvino’s text. It's a fantastic story, with good and evil, and with a thorough description of the characters and all their details.
Work on this project continued for more than three years. The book has not been published yet, but I imagine it as a limited edition with high-quality printing and binding, otherwise, the amount of creativity, accuracy, and labor that I invested in this series can be lost.
Publications and awards:
Winner of the gold-silver medal “Cesare Frigerio”, “for a great imagination and the execution of drawings in the technique of chiaroscuro”. (2005, Corsico, Italy).
Publication in the historical journal of graphics and art Grafica d’Arte, edited by Paolo Bellini (2006, Milan, Italy).
Winner of the personal exhibition at the competition “Polar Expo”. (2009, Bergamo, Italy).
Participation in the exhibition “Fabularia”. (2009, Milan, Italy).
Diploma in the competition “Book Image” at the International Book Fair. (2010, Moscow, Russia).
Eight drawings out of thirteen are presented below. More pictures will be sent upon request.