Spec­trum 23: The Best in Con­tem­po­rary Fan­tas­tic Art

Best in show The pres­ti­gious an­nual round-up of the best in fan­tasy art is here once more and, as usual, it doesn’t dis­ap­point

ImagineFX - - Reviews -

Each artist has passed a high bar to be in­cluded. There’s ab­so­lutely no filler

For more than two decades, the Spec­trum an­nual has been a show­case for the world’s best cre­ators of fan­tasy art. Es­tab­lished in 1993 by Cathy and Arnie Fen­ner, each vol­ume’s re­lease is a big event, both for fans and as a re­source for art di­rec­tors, buy­ers and artists.

It’s not ex­actly cheap. But you get a lot of hard­back book for your money, in terms of its size, weight and num­ber of pages (308). Plus it’s lav­ishly pro­duced, with thick, su­per-glossy pa­per that makes the im­ages sing.

But what about the work it­self? In a word: breath­tak­ing. As usual, the Spec­trum jury has se­lected 300 artists, both up­com­ing and es­tab­lished, from the US, Europe, China, Aus­tralia, South Amer­ica and be­yond. Their con­tri­bu­tions, which in­clude art­works cre­ated for books, graphic nov­els, video games, films, gal­leries and ad­ver­tis­ing, are in­fused with wit, in­ven­tive­ness, pas­sion, imag­i­na­tion and sheer tal­ent. Proof the world of fan­tasy, sci-fi and hor­ror art is alive and well.

Work that par­tic­u­larly res­onated in­cluded An­droid Jones’s exquisitely in­tri­cate cover image (The Year of the Ram); An­nie Stegg Ger­ard’s evoca­tive fairytale scenes (Re­nard and the Straw­ber­ries, and Moon­light Pa­rade); Guangjian Huang’s myth­i­cal male and fe­male war­riors (Nar­cissu, and Sil­ver Knight); David Palumbo’s ar­rest­ing vi­sion of a woman in warpaint (Binti); Travis Louie’s en­thralling alien (In­vader Mitch and his Dog); Au­drey Ben­jamin­sen’s char­coal witches (The Moirari) and Michael Whe­lan’s girl in a float­ing globe (Her Own World). But ev­ery­one will have their favourites, and that’s the idea. Be­cause each artist has passed a high bar to be in­cluded here, there’s ab­so­lutely no filler.

While most of the book is taken up with the art it­self, there’s a fair bit to read too, par­tic­u­larly across the open­ing 30 pages. These in­clude a Meet the Jury sec­tion, a pro­file of ris­ing star Victor Maury and a greet­ing from Spec­trum Grand Master Mike Mig­nola. There’s also an in­sight­ful 11-page Year in Re­view by John Fleskes (though the year in ques­tion is 2015, not 2016).

All in all, whether you’re look­ing to check out the com­pe­ti­tion, keep abreast of fan­tasy art trends, or just en­joy a lot of amaz­ing work, Spec­trum 23 is a de­sir­able pur­chase.

Tran Nguyen’s Trav­el­ing to a Dis­tant Day (acrylic and pen­cils) earned the Ed­i­to­rial Gold Award.

Donato Gian­cola’s Ve­su­vius was painted in oils for Tor Books.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.