U is for Ulysses

U is for Ulysses

There are a couple of hundred illustrations in the book Paris Sera Toujours Paris (Màximo Huerta | Maria Herreros, 2018. Published by Lunwerg Editores), and choosing between them in only two months was a real challenge, because curating isn’t just a matter of taste. It involves building up real knowledge of the items and artworks in your care.

The selection of works was carried out by myself in my home, usually late in the evening after my main job at Galleria Kuvitus. In practice this meant going through piles of Herreros’ works again and again, until the big picture began, little by little, to take shape. There are some central themes uniting the works in this exhibition. Very briefly, in no specific order, these themes are: The element of water, parks, literature, nightlife and solitude. I also tried to follow the general colour palette of the illustrators, which was most often turquoise, green, white and red, like in the song Une Étude en rouge by Aino Venna. There are also major and minor characters, and the recurring figures in the exhibition; Kiki de Montparnasse, Leonardo Foujita, Josephine Baker, Rosalie Tobia and Marika Maijala herself.

Maria Herreros’ illustration of James Joyce‘s giant novel Ulysses is placed on the same wall as the portraits of authors and patrons – and Sylvia Beachthe first publisher of the book. It was published in Paris, because authorities in Britain and America deemed it obscene. Often considered the perfect culmination of all modernist literature, but also “the hardest novel to finish”, Ulysses (1922), takes place over a single day in the life of Leopold and Molly Bloom, and Stephen Dedalus from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – in Dublin on June 16th, 1904.  What I find especially interesting in Herreros’ illustration, is a story within a story. In her illustration, Herreros makes a reference to an illustrated edition of Ulysses: In 1935, American publisher George Macey offered artist Henri Matisse $5,000 to create as many etchings as this budget would afford for a special illustrated edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses. 

I, personally, haven’t read Ulysses yet, but it’s on my shelf now.

Further reading

Sylvia Beach: Shakespeare & Company, 2006 (first published 1959)

James Joyce: Ulysses. Translated into Finnish by Leevi Lehto, Gaudeamus, 857 p., Tallinn 2012

Henri Matisse Illustrates James Joyce’s Ulysses (1935). Open Culture. Oct 10 2016.

Jukka Petäjä: Uusi Joyce-suomennos ottaa lukijasta kunnolla mittaa ja panee koville. HS. 1.12.2018

Erkki Tuomioja: Kirjavinkit, 18.9.2012, Tuomioja.org

Hannu Waarala: James Joyce – Ulysses. Keskisuomalainen. 28.06.2012