The Graphic Work by Jacob Landau

Jacob Landau by Jim Hetherington – April 26, 2019

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Before me, I have The Graphic Work by Jacob Landau. You may recognize his name. He illustrated Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. He typically draws what’s known as “the human condition.” That is inclusive of the critical events, characteristics, and situations which compose the essentials of human existence encompassing birth, emotionality, aspiration, and mortality. It starts with a colorful cover, and that is solely the only colored-in illustration on these pages.

The book calls for slow reading. The set up comprises of four primary chapters followed by a catalog without text for thought and a chronology of education, one-person exhibitions, and other noteworthy categories that mark points of Landau’s history here. Note: these chapters, from the forward to a biographical perspective and meditations as well as the director’s statement, were written by people Landau orchestrated to help him; except for the meditations segment. Let’s proceed.

These illustrations are surreal. Accompanying the text, they depict people from a different world: vastly different. Alongside the illustrations are what’s written, and it’s very interesting. I would venture to say that Jacob Landau is thoughtful and by that I mean his mind is brimming with paradoxes and material for a spectacular monologue. “The dialectic of motion and change… the two hands of God… left and right brains.” Where does he get this from? By now I think it’s misleading to be dismissive and say oh he’s a graphic artist, that’s not the way Landau. What matters is it’s clearly ordered and not in disarray. The meditations (ordered one thru eighteen) presented as a stream of consciousness, cover life to death and back again. It’s really whimsical and more importantly to the point.

With drawing and writing hand in hand, it’s clear Landau has a vast breadth on the spectrum of black to white with zero throwaways. The collection this work belongs to is gigantic so don’t hesitate to browse and select given that the possibilities are endless. Turning inwards I see an expression within his works comprising of the dance of life and how the human condition is all that we know.

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