Consuming literature causes us to create little imaginary visuals to piece a story together. For each person, this experience is unique. A visual can change based on the way the person connects to a story. So it could be said that for a classic story like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, millions of different imaginary images have been constructed.
In his most recent exhibit at the Paul Kasmin Gallery, the artist Santi Moix shares his views of this legendary piece of fiction. It is a unique approach to illustration in that it involves no interaction with the original author, it is created over 100 years after the book was written, and it is not made to accompany the book in any way. This series is done in a more reactionary fashion. It creates very specific distinctions in how someone can interact with the images. We all bring different life experiences in with us when we look at art, but with this, there is a very immediate distinction based on whether or not you have ever read the story. Having read the book, you might be comparing Moix’s interpretation with your own. Having not read it, you instantly start hypothesizing about what the story might be about. And if you read the book after seeing the art, the exhibit might have a profound effect on how you visualize the characters and events.
Both Twain and Moix felt similar needs in order to complete their work on the tale of Mr. Finn. Twain started writing the book from his home in Connecticut but felt the need to return to the south before he could properly conclude it. Similarly, Moix started the series in Barcelona, but felt compelled to return to America in order to finish. Moix with his wonderful use of watercolors captures the swampy, sweaty, dirty vibe that Twain painted with words. I personally read the book about three years ago and had forgotten most of the key elements until I walked into the exhibition. Moix did an interesting job of capturing key elements from the story in an almost collage like style. He did not just post up some pictures on a blank wall. He also did some illustrating directly on the walls themselves, causing the work to really create an environment for themselves.
Moix has taken this approach before with his work. Previously he took on another classic Don Quixote. I am curious if he will continue this pattern, and if so, what book will it be? And I also wonder if he will ever illustrate a book before its release instead of a hundred or so years after.