Sunday, November 2, 2014

Autumn with Omar Khayyam

In the summer of 2012, I met Diego Moreno, 
the publisher of NordicaLibros. We talked about extending his beautiful catalogue of illustrated classic literature to include classics from the East and the Orient. 
I wanted to begin with an illustrated version
 of Omar Khayyam's Rubayaat
and sent him the following two images as a trial.

Photo by Kenza Benamour
Photo by Kenza Benamour
Photo by Kenza Benamour

Last summer, we confirmed that the book 
would be included in the catalogue in 2015. 
And in my excitement, I did what I do whenever I begin any new project...I started a notebook.
In it I began to compile ideas, observations and image research
that inspire me. 

And I read lots. I used making the book and excuse for buying many many beautiful versions of the Rubayaat and read all of them.
I'm fascinated by the variations in the text...
how a single collection of quatrains can be compiled, read and translated into so many different forms.

I am equally fascinated by something in the text 
that I had never quite seen in every single verse there are two line dedicated to life and two to death.
In fact the entire poem (whichever the version), dances through a cycle of life and death, entering a celebratory feast of enjoying the few passing moments we have on earth, using metaphors of nature, wine, love and both carnal and divine intoxication.

I started to play with the idea of making the entire book as one continuous image. I would like the first and last images to link so
that the entire image is a continuous circle.
Here is a little storyboard I began to work out my ideas.

And before signing off, a verse from the
translation of Arthur Talbot in 1908, to warm
up this first rainy autumn night. 

But bring me Wine; for words I do not care; 
I have thy lips, and all my Heav'n is there; 
Bring wine to match thy cheeks; my penitence 
Is full of tangles as thy clust'ring hair.

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