Origins of Art
Designing relationships between text and image in different ways to create a rich, multilayered dialogue
WITH TARA BOOKS
Origins of Art is a pioneering approach to art and culture theory and a testament to Tara Books’ work with the Pardhan Gond artist community. It weaves together a verbal and visual dialogue between Japanese photographer Kodai Matsuoka and Pardhan Gond artist Bhajju Shyam on Patangarh, the village in central India where Gond art originated.
The design is conceptualised to bring out the connections between the everyday life of these artists and their art. The layout is fluid, allowing the viewer to perceive multiple meanings between images and text. Photographs, illustrations and text are creatively juxtaposed in various ways so that each page works like a stage set, recreating for the reader what the authors recall about Patangarh. Every page is a carefully constructed response to what is being said, rather than a technical arrangement of elements in a layout.
A particularly interesting aspect of this book is that the Gond illustrations were not specially made in response to the photographs but sourced from earlier books in Tara Books’ title list. They have been curated to perform a metaphorical function rather than a literal one, bringing in lateral meanings to the overarching narrative.
The book includes a special insert that was silk-screen printed on handmade paper to add a rich, tactile element to the book. This section is a nod to a previous Tara title called Signature, and includes a selection of traditional patterns used in the Gond community, each unique to the artist.