Fur­ther read­ing

Flights of fa ncy Artist and il­lus­tra­tion pro­fes­sor Bill Car­man takes you on a jour­ney of tex­ture, mys­tery and un­fin­ished nar­ra­tive

ImagineFX - - Reviews -

Im­agery from the Bird’s Home: The Art of Bill Car­man; Star Wars The Force Awak­ens: In­cred­i­ble Cross-Sec­tions; Tom Adams Un­cov­ered: The Art of Agatha Christie and Be­yond.

Au­thor Bill Car­man Pub­lisher Flesk Price £27 Web www.fleskpub­li­ca­tions.com Avail­able Now

Tex­tured, in­no­cent, child-like, but with slyly un­set­tling un­der­tones, Bill Car­man’s art­work is noth­ing if not dis­tinc­tive. With in­flu­ences rang­ing from fairy­tales to sur­re­al­ism to steam­punk, the Amer­i­can artist en­tices you with both the power of his imag­i­na­tion and the mag­nif­i­cence of his ex­e­cu­tion.

Bill spent years work­ing as a de­signer, il­lus­tra­tor and art di­rec­tor at univer­si­ties, ad agen­cies, pub­lish­ers, and large cor­po­ra­tions. Yet it’s only now that he’s fi­nally re­leased a high­qual­ity com­pen­dium of his best work. And what a col­lec­tion it is.

A gag­gle of in­cred­i­ble char­ac­ters, from haughty, be­suited cats to gas­mask-don­ning ghouls, jos­tle for space in bizarre scene af­ter bizarre scene. The artist makes great use of jux­ta­po­si­tion, plac­ing to­gether seem­ingly ran­dom things that none­the­less add up to a weirdly en­gag­ing whole.

Bill paints mainly in acrylics, on a va­ri­ety of sur­faces in­clud­ing panel, wood and cop­per, along with some mixed-me­dia work. But while his tech­nique soon be­comes fa­mil­iar, the sub­ject mat­ter never cease to sur­prise.

In De­hy­dra­tion, a gi­ant squid wres­tles with a gnarled and twisted tree that’s straight out of a ghost story. In Alice’s Tears – Bill’s de­pic­tion of the Won­der­land char­ac­ter’s lachry­mose lake – he sum­mons forth an orig­i­nal take on a fa­mil­iar tale. In his Freudusa, there’s a dis­turb­ing mash-up be­tween Sig­mund Freud and Me­dusa that may well keep you awake at night.

As such ex­am­ples sug­gest, Bill’s work is not the fan­tasy art ImagineFX usu­ally deals with: there’s noth­ing ‘genre’ about this work. But there are cer­tainly fan­tas­ti­cal el­e­ments to his scenes, fea­tur­ing an­thro­po­mor­phised an­i­mals and od­dball hu­mans in sit­u­a­tions that are wide open for us to in­ter­pret. And to take in the care­fully con­sid­ered, mas­ter­fully crafted de­tail of each paint­ing is a full meal.

As well as com­pleted works – in­clud­ing paint­ings for com­mis­sions, gal­leries and per­sonal work, there are whim­si­cal draw­ings, doo­dles and prepara­tory sketches dot­ted through­out. While there’s lit­tle in the way of tex­tual ex­po­si­tion, the ad­ven­ture of the imag­i­na­tion this de­light­fully un­usual book will take you on more than makes up for that.

Even Bill’s sketches and loose draw­ings man­age to in­trigue the viewer.

In Shared Eye­wear, Bill Car­man demon­strates his skill in bring­ing dis­parate el­e­ments to­gether.

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