St. Petersburg: [Dmitry Sayenko], 2018. Sayenko, Dmitry. Limited Edition. Hardcover. No. 6 of 20, folio size, 56 pp., signed by James J. Owens and Dmitry Sayenko, with softcover volume. Fine. Item #18101002
Dmitry Sayenko (b. 1965) is a Russian printmaker and book artist; in 1995, he graduated from the Mukhina Art School in St. Petersburg, where he still lives and works, and he continues to teach book arts as he prints and binds his own books. His works are in private collections as well as institutions around the world, including the Russian National Library, the Staatsbibliotheck, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Van Abbemuseum, and the Eoun-ho Kim Collection, among others.
"The Wedding of Sir Gawain" is a modern English rendering of the fifteenth-century poem, with the text by James J. Owens, antiquarian bookseller and co-owner of Thorn Books, ABAA, and linocuts by Dmitry. For this project, Dmitry travelled to England and Scotland to study the mediaeval art and architecture, and his linocuts reflect this style, with distorted and often grotesque figures; his linocuts have a visceral mark making and energetically move through the poem, as the text dances across the pages among the images. In addition to creating the linocuts, Dmitry printed and bound the book, and made the paper by hand, to form a tactile experience that transcends merely reading the book; a few of the pages are even hand-torn to imitate the effect of rats gnawing through paper, to the point of obscuring some of the text and illustrations. It feels as though the reader has stumbled across the old pages of a book, and are left not only with the story within the text, but also with a sense of time and decay, of both the fleeting and permanent qualities of art and literature.
This work is comprised of two companion books; the main volume is the artist book, containing about 50 linocuts with fragments of the medieval text. The companion book is softbound and contains the full text of the legend; both are housed in a single slipcase. The legend is surprisingly contemporary: it is the story of Gawain and the "Loathly Lady", Dame Ragnell, who is under a spell. Gawain marries her for Arthur's sake and as the story unfolds the reader discovers the power of the freedom of choice; that freedom breaks the spell Dame Ragnell has been under and - well, you must read it for yourself.
___DESCRIPTION: Full black and tan linen, handmade paper label with black-and-white linocut by Dmitry Sayenko with red lettering on the front board, brass corner guards, all edges uncut, tan endpapers, title page with black-and-white linocut by Sayenko, linocuts by Sayenko throughout printed in multiple colours, some pages hand-torn to imitate the gnawing of rats, page numbers written in pencil by the artist at the bottom inner margins; Baskerville type, folio size (13.5" by 9.5"), pagination:  2-55 [1 colophon], one of 20 copies, this number 6, signed by James J. Owens and Dmitry Sayenko on the colophon. Included also is a softcover volume with the full version of the text, covers made from handmade paper, black-and-white linocut and red lettering on the front cover, text printed on Mohawk Superfine paper, also folio size, 28 pp. in wraps of handmade paper. Both are in a plain beige paper slipcase, and a hand-written number 6 on the spine.
___CONDITION: A fine copy, received directly from the book artist; the covers clean, the corners straight and unrubbed, the binding tight with solid hinges, the interior clean and bright, and free of prior owner markings; clean, crisp, new. The softcover volume is fine also, clean and without wear. The slipcase is strong and sturdy, clean and without wear.
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