Mary Shelley by Sarah Dolby

Sarah Dolby. "MaryShelley". (2007). All rights reserved.

Sarah Dolby is an interesting painter from New Zeland. He had success and her works has been exhibited in New York. This is due to the high quality and imagination of her images. There are two main points in her Art: she paints mainly women and all of them have a dark aura. Because of it we are right if we say she is a gothic painter.

The image I post reflects the personal vision of Sarah Dolby about the authoress of Frankenstein novel in 19th century Mary Shelley. This interest in this female writer of the Gothic novel contributes with the two ideas I expressed before: a woman with a dark component.

It would have been easier for Sarah to take as model one of the portraits of the writer from the 19th century like the famous one made by Richard Rothwell, first exhibited in 1840, and today located in the National Portrait Gallery in London. But Sarah Dolby preferred to round 180 degrees and proposed a Mary Shelley very different: like a gothic character, as one extracted from one extracted from her dark novels. So, we can see one element to refute our theory: Mary Shelley’s head.

The head reflects the agony of the woman. It looks like a contemporary gothic girl, with an obscure make up, to reflect she is a living dead or she is a phantom: deep eye shadows, dark lipstick and pale face. Also the hairstyle is strange, not in the 19th century mood.

Her dresses are very personal too. She wears a lace shirt and grey skirt with a red cloak fastened in the arm.

There is a contradiction in this dark painting, it´s an element of contrast, there are plants growing all around Shelley’s body with several types of flowers. A natural element that surrounds a purely dark icon.

There are other elements that I cannot identify or understand. Behind the female figure, suspended in a grey sky, there are objects floating in the air. I can recognize a mirror, a little portrait and some piety illustrations. Just those piety illustrations are the element that doesn´t fit in the puzzle. I cannot understand their meaning in the painting.

Again another interesting contemporary image that reflects the spirit of the 19th century. I think that the current gothic movement has its roots in the dark 19th , one of my favourite points of study. I hope you like this intriguing painting too.


Illustrated Manson

David Despau. "Manson". All rights reserved.

I want to present in this post an image created by one of the most important current Spanish illustrators: David Despau. He is the Creative Director of the BBDO agency at the same time he works as illustrator. The quality of his works had made that he appears in important illustration books as Taschen’s “Illustration Now3”, “200 best illustrators” from Luerzers Archive, “Illusive” and “Hairy” from Gestalten.

The illustration of Marilyn Manson has been made by ballpen, pencil and Photoshop. I have chosen it because he represents maybe the most popular icon of the Gothic culture.

I have contrary feelings about Marilyn Manson. He obviously is one of the phenomens that has popularised the Gothic movement, his provocations, scandals, extravagances have risen him to the top of Gothic culture transpassing the bubble of underground, main characteristic of this movement. The date was october 1996 when Manson released “Antichrist Superstar”, one of the best and popular albums of the 90’s. This was the inflection point in the career of Manson, since then everything was different for him, the fame. I consider the excellence of this album comes from the production of the album by Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails (he is just one true genius of Industrial Rock). Before and after this release, the albums of Marilyn Manson are average, not masterpieces at all, with a few exceptions.

I mean that Manson is a market product, a mass media icon, but he is not at all a genius of Gothic culture. His fame is undeserved. So, as sympathiser of Gothic culture, I admit Manson is important to spread the movement but he is not at all the main reference. We must not forget the real initiators of the genre: The Cure, Bauhaus and the Batcave in UK in the late 70’s and early 80’s, spread all over Europe in the 90’s. So, Manson is a later icon, he hasn´t invent or renew this movement at all.

However, and disagreeing in many points the Manson’s policy I think he, as icon, is important to show the Gothic culture to the mainstream, an underground movement that I consider very important inside the music history of the end of 20th century. And it´s just for this cause that I deceided to post this image.

The illustration of David Despau caught some elements of Manson’s philosophy. First of all the Manson’s name is written in a blood puddle. The blood appears in all the Manson’s shows: he simulates to cut himself on stage, referring to auto-mutilation acts, to masochism, to primitive pulses. This primitivism appears also in the practise of tattooing, a characteristic of the so called “modern primitives”, a practise usual in Gothic culture. This time the tattoo appears in his arm: an skull. The skull is a memento mori, another Gothic point of refletion. The illustration captures also some aesthetic extravagances, such as rings, make up, false contact lens and dog necklace. These elements have been copied by his many fans all over the world.

I think that Despau has been able to combine in a few traces, textures and colours, the most important charcteristics of Marilyn Manson, it´s a perfect resume of what Manson means.

More images of David Despau:

Lisbeth Salander must live

Fernando de Vicente. “Lisbeth Salander debe vivir”. (2009). All rights reserved.

This time we travel to the world of newspapers illustration. This post is about an image from the Spanish illustrator Fernando de Vicente for El País diary, in September 6th 2009 close to the article “Lisbeth Salander must live” by Mario Vargas Llosa.

The article talks about exalting one of the main characters of the Swedish literary trilogy “Millennium” from Stieg Larsson. I must admit I haven´t read the trilogy, I have only watched the first film of the trilogy: “The men that didn´t love the women”, the best of the three films of the series. I think this is enough to know who is Lisbeth Salander and what about her look, just the message that Fernando de Vicente wants to transmit in this illustration.

Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist are the two heroes of the saga, and contrary to the tradition, Lisbeth has the strength role while Mikael is the weak, a female with male attributes, a mulier fortis. In the film we can see how she is raped in first instance but has the strength and power to punish her rapist by tattooing an offensive message in his skin. Later she always fights and plays the active role.

Her profession: to be a hacker, her duty: to help to reveal a mystery. Everything under a look that is a mix of goth and punk style. I must say that in this point I feel close to Lisbeth cause I was a goth for a long time and I liked computers. It´s just this point that should be watched in this illustration.

I think Fernando de Vicente offers a light look of the brave Lisbeth Salander, maybe due to the image appeared in a big newspaper. Her aggressive connotations appear mellowed, there is no mohawk haircut nor tack necklace, Lisbeth looks a beautyful goth girl (black lips and eyelines) with only a piercing and a big tattoo of a dragon in her back that seems to mean her strength. These two elements refer to the practice of “modern primitivism”, one of the aspects of the goth culture. This look is quite different to the actress Noomi Rapace, protagonist of the European series, but is maybe closer to the look of Nathalie Portman who possibly will be the main character in the American series (we must think about her appearance in “V for Vendetta”).

Anyway, the work of Fernando de Vicente is quite excellent, as all his Art. He is mainly illustrator for newspapers, magazines, music covers, but he is also a painter. You must find many of his works at: