It’s hard not to notice Natasha Law’s paintings and drawings when you see one hanging above a mantle or in a gallery. Her graceful, graphic silhouettes pop against bold colors. Her work has toed the line between fashion and art; her subjects are always in the process of dressing, or undressing, depending on which way you look at it. Law (yes, older sister of Jude) shares the books that inspired her as a young and inquisitive artist. Word of advice: Don’t expect the obvious.
Ulysses by James Joyce
It’s a cheesy classic to list, I know, but putting that firmly to one side… Read it fast or slow, it contains every book, every style of writing and approach to a story within its covers. It blows everything else out of the water, and from an artist’s point of view it needs to be there on your shelf to revisit to remind you of alternative perspectives, of approaching the familiar from a new direction, that we don’t necessarily have to chain ourselves to one way of doing something. Plus there’s everything here: sex, death, drunkenness. What more do you need?
Illuminations by Walter Benjamin or Mythologies by Roland Barthes
Barthes and Baudrillard were thrust at us pretty quickly at art college if I remember correctly and I have a huge soft spot for essays on mass culture and semiotics. It is the magnificent in the mundane that is being human. Benjamin was a major help when I had to write my final thesis and his essays on philosophy, art, history, Marxism and Western culture weave threads and parallels, make connections and reintroduce you to the familiar.
Ellsworth Kelly: Plant Drawings by Michael Semff
I have a few books by artists whom I absolutely love, and it’s hard to pick one. But this book has to win out as it’s one I always come back to just because of the beauty of his line and how calm and happy it makes me just to look at each page.
Shades of Time by Annelies Strba
I saw this exhibition years ago and there is something about how she casually made the small moments of her everyday into her art that I like to go back and touch base with whenever I need to. The images aren’t perfect or poised, but they ensnare you and reel you in and are very much an individual’s voice.
Sunny, Vol. 1-5, by Taiyo Matsumoto
I really just wanted to suggest a graphic novel that grabbed you and reminded you how images can suck you into a story completely. Could be Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel, or Blacksad: Amarillo by Juanjo Guarnido and Juan Diaz Canales, or go back to classics like Tintin or Watchmen. But appreciating someone else’s ability to direct your gaze and lead you through a story their way is exciting.