10 grudnia 2022

Paris est une fête

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast."

Ernest Hemingway's words always move me since Paris is my moveable feast, too. It's my endless inspiration and a place where I feel like having birthday for several days in a row.

Decadent breakfasts in bed, long strolls along la Seine, drawing in cafés, spending long hours in museums, meeting friends, laughing in French with accidentally encountered people, reading Symbolist poets in Parc Monceau, watching old films late at night... the list is endless. And it's never enough.

Here are some random souvenirs from my last week at the banquet.

Bisou bisou, Jo

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24 września 2022

Au Lecteur

Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire - my endless source of inspiration.

I dream of illustrating the *real* book, make it a beautiful, snobbish and extremely seductive work of art.

For now I create thousands of sketches, ink paintings and digital drawings, discovering this poetry all over again.

Here is an ink on paper, 30x40 cm illustration to Au Lecteur.

Bisou bisou, Jo

Au lecteur

La sottise, l'erreur, le péché, la lésine,
Occupent nos esprits et travaillent nos corps,
Et nous alimentons nos aimables remords,
Comme les mendiants nourrissent leur vermine.

Nos péchés sont têtus, nos repentirs sont lâches ;
Nous nous faisons payer grassement nos aveux,
Et nous rentrons gaiement dans le chemin bourbeux,
Croyant par de vils pleurs laver toutes nos taches.

Sur l'oreiller du mal c'est Satan Trismégiste
Qui berce longuement notre esprit enchanté,
Et le riche métal de notre volonté
Est tout vaporisé par ce savant chimiste.

C'est le Diable qui tient les fils qui nous remuent !
Aux objets répugnants nous trouvons des appas ;
Chaque jour vers l'Enfer nous descendons d'un pas,
Sans horreur, à travers des ténèbres qui puent.

Ainsi qu'un débauché pauvre qui baise et mange
Le sein martyrisé d'une antique catin,
Nous volons au passage un plaisir clandestin
Que nous pressons bien fort comme une vieille orange.

Serré, fourmillant, comme un million d'helminthes,
Dans nos cerveaux ribote un peuple de Démons,
Et, quand nous respirons, la Mort dans nos poumons
Descend, fleuve invisible, avec de sourdes plaintes.

Si le viol, le poison, le poignard, l'incendie,
N'ont pas encor brodé de leurs plaisants dessins
Le canevas banal de nos piteux destins,
C'est que notre âme, hélas ! n'est pas assez hardie.

Mais parmi les chacals, les panthères, les lices,
Les singes, les scorpions, les vautours, les serpents,
Les monstres glapissants, hurlants, grognants, rampants,
Dans la ménagerie infâme de nos vices,

Il en est un plus laid, plus méchant, plus immonde !
Quoiqu'il ne pousse ni grands gestes ni grands cris,
Il ferait volontiers de la terre un débris
Et dans un bâillement avalerait le monde ;

C'est l'Ennui ! - l'oeil chargé d'un pleur involontaire,
Il rêve d'échafauds en fumant son houka.
Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre délicat,
- Hypocrite lecteur, - mon semblable, - mon frère!

To the Reader

Folly and error, avarice and vice, 
Employ our souls and waste our bodies' force. 
As mangey beggars incubate their lice, 
We nourish our innocuous remorse.

Our sins are stubborn, craven our repentance. 
For our weak vows we ask excessive prices. 
Trusting our tears will wash away the sentence, 
We sneak off where the muddy road entices.

Cradled in evil, that Thrice-Great Magician, 
The Devil, rocks our souls, that can't resist; 
And the rich metal of our own volition 
Is vaporised by that sage alchemist.

The Devil pulls the strings by which we're worked: 
By all revolting objects lured, we slink 
Hellwards; each day down one more step we're jerked 
Feeling no horror, through the shades that stink.

Just as a lustful pauper bites and kisses 
The scarred and shrivelled breast of an old whore, 
We steal, along the roadside, furtive blisses, 
Squeezing them, like stale oranges, for more.

Packed tight, like hives of maggots, thickly seething
Within our brains a host of demons surges. 
Deep down into our lungs at every breathing, 
Death flows, an unseen river, moaning dirges.

If rape or arson, poison, or the knife 
Has wove no pleasing patterns in the stuff 
Of this drab canvas we accept as life — 
It is because we are not bold enough!

Amongst the jackals, leopards, mongrels, apes, 
Snakes, scorpions, vultures, that with hellish din, 
Squeal, roar, writhe, gambol, crawl, with monstrous shapes, 
In each man's foul menagerie of sin — 

There's one more damned than all. He never gambols,
Nor crawls, nor roars, but, from the rest withdrawn,
Gladly of this whole earth would make a shambles
And swallow up existence with a yawn...

Boredom! He smokes his hookah, while he dreams 
Of gibbets, weeping tears he cannot smother. 
You know this dainty monster, too, it seems — 
Hypocrite reader! — You! — My twin! — My brother!

— Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)


19 września 2022

Playing with letters

I have a thing about old newspapers and magazines. Especially the French ones. It's so interesting to read about the way people saw the world, what they laughed at, what they took seriously.

But my greatest pleasure is looking at drawings and photos, bizarre advertisements and fashions. And, of course, an amazing typography that I always try to copy to my sketchbook as an inspiration for future projects. Just take a look at those brave, sophisticated letters!

Bisou bisou, Jo

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14 września 2022

Henry Miller’s commandments

Here are 11 commandments concerning work and creativity by the writer and painter Henry Miller. I look at them every so often to remind myself that drawing must be a fun, sweet (but still) routine, and when I'm not able to create, I have to work, even harder. Bisou bisou, Jo.

1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.

2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to Black Spring.

3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.

4. Work according to the program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!

5. When you can’t create you can work.

6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.

7. Keep human! See people; go places, drink if you feel like it.

8. Don’t be a drought-horse! Work with pleasure only.

9. Discard the Program when you feel like it–but go back to it the next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.

10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.

11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

Photo: Natalia & Ernest Dec

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28 lipca 2022

I could be your shadow on a long hot day

She-chameleon, icon, rock rebel and a big inspiration - Kora.

I was really honoured to create her portrait for Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls written by Sylwia Chutnik and published by Debit.

Here is an English version of Kreon, one of my favourite Polish songs: https://youtu.be/O66_4_4W_wU

Bisou bisou, Jo

What kind of home has foundation that shake 
Where brothers cut throats 
With knives of hate 
There's always a part for you, kreon 
And for the hero Antygon 

Nothing has changed 
For thousend of years 
The same old desires 
The same old greed 
Lose everything 
People turn from your throne 
You'll face the end 
Forever alone... 

You'd better watch out 
Kreon, Kreon 
I'll never give you 
A peaceful moment 
If I want, I'll be a rat 
And find you in the darkest corner 
If I want, I'll be a cockroach 
Crawl in your ear 
And poison your last hope 
I could be your shadow 
On a long hot day 
Be your lover in the middle of the night 

You say I'm defenceless 
You must be joking 
I'm a rough diamond 
You are only shining me 

You'd better watch out... 

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