[East Hampton, NY]: 2017. Artist's book, unique but the second in a series centering on the Mesopotamian hero, Gilgamesh, on white BFK Rives paper, with original painting, lettering, and bas-reliefs of Gilgamesh and Enkidu as well as other elements in this epic, signed by the artist, Barry McCallion and dated April 2017 on the colophon. Page size: 10-1/2(W) x 15-1/4(L) inches; 27pp. plus colophon and titlepage. Bound: hand-sewn by Joelle Webber at Mermaid Bindery, black boards with tan book cloth spine, inset painted collage of Gilgamesh and Enkidu on black and gold printed paper with gingko leaf pattern, gingko paper used as flyleaves; housed in custom-made tan book cloth clamshell box with same gingko leaf paper as inset on front panel, label on spine with title and author hand-painted and lettered in black on white and yellow ground.
Each of the book's twenty-seven paintings began as a sheet of white Rives collaged with text pages of the epic from the N.K. Sandars' translation. Gesso was applied and rough borders with marking pen added. The images were worked with a variety of materials including pen, pencil, stains, acrylic, pearlescent inks and paints, print and print collage. The "action" depicted on each page is noted by a section of Sandars' text from this epic poem. Bright colors alternate with greys and beiges and gold. The painted and collaged "bas relief" figures reflect the ancient texts while retaining their curious modernity.
Accepted as the first great surviving work of literature, it is an epic poem pre-dating Homer by 1,500 years and known to the world from Tablet V dating from 2003-1595 BCE. Gilgamesh was a semi-mythic King of Uruk (there are references to his existence found in ancient inscriptions), but it is as a hero questing for the meaning of life that captivates and keeps his name alive in the 21st century. His transformation from belligerent tyrant to thoughtful, purposeful human being is brought into sharp focus by the juxtaposition with his enemy turned friend, Enkidu. Man's duality and the human condition (death) are themes in Gilgamesh that are brought to dazzling life in this artist's book. The reader / viewer enters an ancient world, still relevant today, with Gilgamesh, his loves, losses, and search for eternal life. Item #11313