I have been a huge fan of Atanu Roy’s artwork ever since I discovered his illustrations in Paro Anand’s Wingless. I knew of The Puffin Book of Magical Indian Myths written by Anita Nair when I was invited to speak in Mumbai in November 2011, and I had a chance to personally meet Atanu.
I meant to read this book to be featured for our previous theme on Faeries, Goddesses, and Spirit-Stars. Then I decided to postpone it for our current theme on Kings, Queens, Princesses, Bluebloods. however, as life would have it, I did not have a chance to really read through all of the stories. However, it would be such a shame not to share my enthused response for Atanu’s artwork in this silvery-gem of a book. Add the fact that the Asian Festival of Children’s Content here in Singapore is doing a regional focus on India for 2014. Most of our friends from outside of this region may be unaware of amazing artists such as Atanu. Here are a few of my favourites from the book:
So visually arresting this one: light being swallowed by darkness – could already engender so many meaningful discussions, so many layers that could be unraveled.
This image here is so raw, so authentic, so unapologetic in its agony.
The artworks are not merely portraits found in separate pages or in full-spreads, it is neatly interwoven throughout the fabric of the book. The design and layout of the book are thoughtfully considered as you could see in the picture above and the one below:
A great deal of thought has been invested here by the artist in ensuring that the images are not mere duplications of the text, but his own interpretation of what the words mean to him. The description of Atanu Roy found at the end of the book indicated how much time and effort have been invested in this beautiful book:
“Illustrating this book was like doing fifty separate books, he says. He has composed and rendered the artwork as paintings, incorporating classical styles of painting and architecture, and varied fauna and landscape as part of the art. He says, ‘I have avoided the stereotype as far as possible and interpreted each story as only a story without any glorification or religious connotations. To the consternation of many it took me about five years to complete the book. Maybe I could have done better if I had more time!’ “
Evidently, the man is a perfectionist and very exacting in his work, as demonstrated in his amazingly-detailed creative vision.
And here is another one of my favourites from the book:
It was truly such a privilege to have met him in Mumbai for the International Seminar & Exhibition: Creating Content(ment) for Children as organized by The Damroo Project in Mumbai, India.
I am flanked by two of the greatest children’s book artists of our time: Suzy Lee and Atanu Roy. Such joy reflected in my face indeed. Taken in Mumbai, November 2011.