Creator’s Interview: Abanindranath’s House of Stories

“I let Tagore’s own words lead me from one magical experience to another.” – Eva Sánchez Gomez

The latest publication in the ‘Art Exploration’ series – co-published by Art1st and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, with research supported by Akar Prakar – is  ‘Abanindranath’s House of Stories’. Written by Likla, illustrated by Eva Sánchez Gomez, designed by Rohina Thapar, and edited by Ayushi Saxena – the book is based on the childhood of the illustrious artist Abanindranath Tagore.

Eva tells us about her experiences of creating the book and of collaborating with the team. Read on: 

“Each project usually presents a particular challenge. And that’s motivating actually because it forces me to think about the best way to solve it and that usually means losing control over the expected time and results. The style changes, maybe not always dramatically, but it changes. This implies more risk in a way but also more attention and interest. I guess I am afraid of drawing mechanically or maybe I am still modulating my own voice. And I think that this must be done by experimenting with all the possibilities that I have.

Eva Sánchez Gomez

Having said that, there is also a certain order in my work process. The process starts with reading the text that I need to illustrate for and then I start working on the characters. I try to define them the best I can by imagining them in different situations or aspects based on the text and then go even beyond it.

In this case, the order was different though and that was another inspiring challenge. I was given the main character – who is none other than Abanindranth Tagore. I received a lot of documentation about him, his life, his work, and his childhood. But this time, the images were supposed to lead to the text and not the other way around. I still started my work with the character and with the construction of the story in the same magical and fascinating way as the mind of a child is.

The book as an object could also be narrative, and in this case, we wanted to explore that too. The book would be Jorasanko itself, and we would go through the different floors leading to the third one which is where Abanindranath’s room was.

Glimpses into the work process

I let Tagore’s own words lead me from one magical experience to another. And I deliberately wanted to focus on the imagination and lack of boundaries. Even when he had a well-defined “playground” which was Jorasanko – or even just a part of it – he could travel day and night as far as he wanted to. I basically tried to play like him or like every child, and I was lucky enough to be accompanied by a team that totally supported that method all the way. I worked closely with Likla in creating a story that she finally finished up with the text. 

The book as an object could also be narrative, and in this case, we wanted to explore that too. The book would be Jorasanko itself, and we would go through the different floors leading to the third one which is where Abanindranath’s room was. There are some open windows there for the reality to enter and for the fantasy to come out. They get nourished from each other. Thanks to the editorial, design, and printing team, we managed to make the dream come true in a literal sense too.

I feel that sometimes the biggest challenge in the process is to be able to fly above my own imaginary boundaries and at the same time, being able to communicate a story. Abanindranath Tagore has been a real inspiration on this matter as well as having the chance to work together with such an amazing and brave team.”

The book is available on Amazon: https://amzn.eu/d/fj7h8o7
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