Treasure Island – Half a Century Later
08 December 2015 – 14 February 2016
Creative artistic longevity is not a very rare occurrence. But you don’t bump often into a situation where a well-known book illustrator who has shaped the visual and typographic equivalent of hundreds of oeuvres of world literature and has built his own pictorial and spiritual bridge to the writers of those books would embark on a backwards journey to the illustrations he had created half a century earlier.
The images of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper and Treasure Island are just a three of the multitude of well-remembered and easily distinguishable book illustrations that Lyuben Zidarov had done during the 60ies and the 70ies for a great number of clas-sical young readers’ novels like H.C. Andersen’s Fairy Tales, Arabian Nights, The Count of Monte Cristo, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Tales of E. T. A. Hoffmann or Nikolay Raynov, the adventure stories of Karl May, Mayne Reid or Jules Verne.
2014 and 2015 saw a new interest of Lyuben Zidarov in his old illustrations for Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper and Treasure Island by in accepting the self-challenge of drawing updated versions of these popular images by way of upholding the original visualized moments and their outlines. The difference lies in what is the most essential content of an illustration: the attitude of the illustrator towards the story and its protagonists. This is achieved by Zidarov through the use of an enhanced palette on one side and most profoundly through his artistic innovations made possible by the decades of acquired professional mastery coupled with the wisdom of old age. At the end of this road one finds a unique amalgam between the art of book illustration and the art of painting.
The exhibition Treasure Island Half a Century Later is putting on display all the original new illustrations for the three abovementioned novels alongside reproductions of a num-ber of their earlier versions some of those 50 years of age now. The fourth book on show bear an intrinsic cohesion with R. S. Stevenson’s classic buccaneer epic Treasure Island, namely its sequel Silver, written nowadays by an acclaimed contemporary author – the for Poet Laureate of Great Britain Andrew Motion.
As it has become apparent that Stevenson’s Treasure Island retains a special place as the in Lyuben Zidarov’s artistic biography and a focal point of the whole show, the exhibi-tion has been supplemented by a small documental part exploring the history of illustrat-ing the famous novel. There are also a number of reproductions from its first British and American editions from the 1880ies.
The new Bulgarian editions of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper and Treasure Island were published by Zaharij Stoyanov Publishing House while Silver was printed by another publisher – Prozoretz as a limited to 150 numbered copies edition, each one containing an original signed lithograph by Lyuben Zidarov. All four titles will be available to buy at the City Art Gallery’s bookstore.