Science Fiction/Fantasy Art Book Review


Perceptualistics (2002) Jael, Paper Tiger, 20.00, hdbk, 112pp, ISBN 1-85585-971-8

With text by John Grant (of The Encyclopedia of Fantasy fame) this is a glorious collection of Jael's "Perceptualistics" paintings - apparently she doesn't like them being described as abstracts but, just so you've got some idea, that's more or less what they are. Jael herself thinks of them as stories, though it is up to each viewer to concoct their own stories for each piece. Grant, with many quotes from Jael, does an admirable job of telling the story of Jael's life in the introductory essay "Tales from an Illustrator's Life", but the stars of the book are the paintings themselves, naturally. Paper Tiger have done their usual excellent job of reproducing the artworks and are to be credited for their loving care and astute aesthetic sense. The pieces are somewhat reminiscent of Richard Powers, with a dash of John Berkey and a smidgeon of HR Giger (especially Anquis 1992, pg.92 and Passage 1996, pg.74 among others), but at the end of the day they're not really like anything except themselves. Though I've liked a few of Jael's 'normal' fantasy art and book covers, I've never really been a fan of hers, but these pieces are a real eye opener and I have to say that I love them! The work here really draws in the eye, the mind and the imagination, and I understand exactly why Jael thinks of them as stories. Each mindscape clamours for attention and is jealous of letting you go onto the next one; this is the kind of work that it is easy to become lost in. If I had the time to meditate for days on end while looking at these, then I surely would. I've just become a big Jael fan and, if you buy this book, then you will too!

Tony Chester

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