99 Fears. By Nedko Solakov. Text by Suzaan Boettger. Phaidon Press, 2008. 112pp., 99 colour illustrations, 8 x 11 1/2".
I thought it appropriate to start the New Year with (besides a hello to 2009) showcasing a book that seems very suitable for the times we live in.
Nedko Solakov is a Bulgarian artist born in 1957. He studied at the Sofia Academy of Fine Arts in the late 70's/early 80's and has since his graduation produced art works, installations and performance pieces tinged with the political connotation of and springing from growing up under and after a communist regime. His work has been exhibited all over the world.
In putting pen to paper he "uses [his] drawing as an attempt to assuage life's anxieties, both personal and wordily." The resulting collection of sepia, black and white ink, and wash on paper drawings on this subject of fear became a collection of art work entitled "99 Fears" and was part of the Documenta 12 contemporary art exhibition in 2007.
In "99 Fears" we will meet a collection of fears ranging from the universally serious (#27 AIDS, #43 dangerously untruthful world leaders), the less so (#81 "a general fear"), to the uplifting (#12 "a tiny piece of hope is not scared of living in a deep black darkness") - all wonderfully illustrated.
With the book "99 Fears" Phaidon Press has made a beautiful re-production of Nedko Solakov's 99 original prints with the addition of a scholarly text on his fears entitled "Courage" by the art historian Suzaan Boettger, placing this collection of drawings both within the context of Solakov's previous work as well as within the context of art history as a whole.
The book is printed on thick matte paper, and the tonal quality and reproduction of the original paper are excellent (even though I have not seen the original prints the reproduction evokes how holding them in your hand would feel).
It comes bound in hardcover with a dust jacket. Nedko Solokov has added drawings and commentary on the cover and title page (something I especially liked), which ties the book together as a whole.
"99 Fears" is a humorous commentary on the fears of an everyday man, which by its' nature is both personal and wordily. In these current times of financial anxiety, political unrest and uncertainty in the world these fears become more universal, making the book an interesting commentary on our current times.