Spec­trum 21

The great­est, an­nual, printed artists’ ex­hi­bi­tion is still go­ing strong af­ter more than two decades

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Reviews -

Edi­tor John Fleskes ven af­ter more than 20 imag­i­na­tion-packed years of pro­vid­ing one of the finest and far-reach­ing plat­forms “for imag­i­na­tive work in all its forms, with­out pre­ten­sion and with­out prej­u­dice”, the Spec­trum or­gan­i­sa­tion, now headed by John Fleskes, still of­fers artists and art lovers a gen­uinely cru­cial, one-stop snap­shot of the land­scape of con­tem­po­rary fan­tas­tic art, year by year. And the 21st of­fer­ing is equally as en­gross­ing and en­ter­tain­ing as any other year be­fore it.

What Spec­trum does so well is present fan­tasy in its en­tirety. This col­lec­tion isn’t all bright lights and happy smiles. It ex­plores the night­mares as well as day­dreams that con­tem­po­rary artists en­vi­sion: per­fectly posed pin-up next to battle-

EPub­lisher Flesk

July 2015

Price £30

Web www.fleskpub­li­ca­tions.com

Avail­able Now hard­ened war­riors. If it’s en­gag­ing, full of ideas, and de­picted with skill, you’ll find it here.

Nat­u­rally, there are fan­tasy favourites – sword-wield­ing bar­bar­ians, and ma­jes­tic dragons – but the ma­jor­ity of 21 is charged by in­cred­i­bly per­sonal fan­tasy. This is ev­i­dent in the ed­i­to­rial gold award go­ing to a dreamy, in­stantly recog­nis­able Tran Nguyen piece. It’s in Eric For­tune’s soli­tary night­time scenes, in Fiono Meng’s soft sur­re­al­ism.

It may be a cliché to talk about pic­tures telling a story, but that’s what this col­lec­tion is: a sto­ry­book, for those who have the time and in­cli­na­tion to stop, and look, and imag­ine. What beast is that which has the antlers of a rein­deer, tusks of an ele­phant and tail of a snake, and why does he look so amused? Where is that black rab­bit in the Ed­war­dian dress headed to? Who trained those cats to turn a pit­bull into a semi-aquatic mode of trans­port?

You prob­a­bly get the pic­ture – if you take our mean­ing. You can dip into Spec­trum 21 with the in­ten­tion of a quick flick through, and then see the sun go down, leav­ing you dizzy in the dark, with hours lost to a host of won­der­ful, non-ex­is­tent worlds.

The 2015 in­stal­ment cov­ers ev­ery Gold and Sil­ver win­ner, from comics to book cov­ers to ad­ver­tis­ing to con­cept art, and the par­tic­u­larly ar­rest­ing di­men­sional sculp­tures. There’s also a short but heart­felt trib­ute to the late Ray Har­ry­hausen, in­sights into the con­test’s judg­ing and judges, and a fea­ture on Star Wars artist Iain McCaig.

Per­haps most inspiring of all the text el­e­ments, how­ever, is the stir­ring Year In Re­view from John Fleskes him­self, which cel­e­brates the achieve­ments and use­ful­ness of the Spec­trum fam­ily, and its prom­ise that, “We will con­tinue to leave the door un­locked where all can en­ter”.

Raoul Vi­tale’s Sec­ond Break­fast de­picts the re­mains of the trolls who tor­mented Frodo’s un­cle, Bilbo.

An­droid Jones’s I-Be­lieve was printed on a new ‘Sil­ver­ada’ can­vas, giv­ing the print a pearles­cent metal­lic fin­ish.

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