Illustration for the book
Mr. Malaparte's House
A casa do senhor Malaparte
Text Joana Couceiro
Graphic design Studio Dobra
Illustration Mariana Rio (myself)
Published by Circo de Ideias
Publishing date September 2015
Sometimes the phone rings and an invitation arises. You say yes to it in a fraction of seconds. You know that work is for you, you know it's a challenge like that you've been looking for. No matter the deadline, the atmospheric conditions, what happened before or your to-do list for tomorrow.
That was how my participation in the book "The house of Mr. Malaparte" began.
By that time, the graphic project and the text were already in the final adjustments phrase, almost finished.
I had the time to read and analyze with ease... There was space for images. Seven spaces, that transform into eleven. They could be filled in so many ways. There was elegance, the right weights, typographic choices, a tempting format and delicious materials. You could almost smell the fresh ink of a new book.
There was scale, provided detachment between written and drawn words. I should be smart, curious, methodic. I should be at the level of that lady and gentlemen. There was time to accomplish, a narrative to create, adjectives to choose.
Joana opened me the path and look with a sublime text which tells the story to find, in layers, along with the pages. The most tuned and informed will be in advantage. Her words are fulfilled of sonority, colors, textures, smells, senses, clues, paths, references. Uf! What can I add here? - I thought.
It's mine the insatiable will to learn.
The house of Curzio Malaparte. I had to understand the space, the exterior, the interior, the surrounding and the context. I had to know how to draw it. How it is and how it doesn't. How it is in the domain of a new authorship. I had to understand the relation between the house and the wildest and lonely part of Capri, with the mountain, with the rocks, with the sea, with the smell of the sea. With humidity, with the noise of the waves. I had to be able to see the house, growing outside, inside, stone by stone, with my eyes shut. Curzio in the commands. His temple and prison. The house where he would be free to write.
I had to understand more, to know the bird who swallow his cage, to felt how he felt, to listen to the noise of the writing machine, the wrinkle of the paper. The noise of the books, of the sleepless nights. I needed to know the Favourites and the friends to come. I needed to smell Maria's cookings and the cold in Malaparte's stomach when he turned that curve in the terrace pedaling in the direction of the sky and the sea.
I need Contempt, Kaputt, Skin, A House Like Me. I needed to get wet and climb the inverted pyramid staircase.
The explosion of adrenaline. Draw, draw, draw. Going forward and backward, process, experiences, small storyboards, big drawings. Failures.
The inspiration shows up when we less expect it, but only if it found us working.
The visual narrative starts to make sense, the moments that we've chosen seem crucial. There is macro and there is micro. There is sense. There is color.
It is time to chose the colors.
But is the graphic speech coherent? There is enough distance from reality? Have I added something to this book?
So many decisions to make. So many words to choose.
Drawings in the wall, photocopies, drawings in the floor. Drawings flying. Drawings in the trash bin. In the notebooks, in paper towels. Drawings in the head.
Adjust, meditate. Observe, think. Think again.
Read more and more. Observe, think. Decide.
Execution: measurements, cut, organize. Until we have bubbles in our fingers. Morning sickness.
Dive deep in a stage of absolute concentration during hours in a row. Calm, patience. Work like time was infinite and there was nothing besides this drawing. Stamp after stamp, a millimeter of tape, a filament of brush... Even when the rest of our life is falling apart and the world outside it's confusing and tense.
When I finished, didn't know how I've got there. The result seems made by another one but there is no one to hurt. We can judge it and be aggressive. We are still on time to listen to that critics and change. We are still on time to save some drawings in the lower drawer and redo them. There is no time? We must find it!
Will I be satisfied someday? I guess not. But I like that.
Some early drawings, exploration drawings, storyboards.
Some of the final drawings.
Details of the printed book.
Part of the process in exhibition.