Beatriz Martin Vidal: Between Dreams and Reality

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(originally published on the Coilhouse blog, September 22, 2010)

A young girl in a scarlet hoodied romper stares gravely up into the heavily furred, ferociously fanged face of a black wolf.  A lesser creature might be shamed by the child’s frank gaze – her features set earnestly, courageously, eyes alight with curiosity, and perhaps, even compassion.

Is the wolf to be deterred by this sweet faced thing, obviously unafraid?  Will it stray from it’s monstrously predictable fairytale course?  No, it is not. Will not.  Cannot — after all, that is what it wolves do, isn’t it?

And before you can blink it has swallowed the girl whole.

But, wait…

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See our little heroine, pale and grim. Watch her crawling through the gaping, bloodied hole she has snipped with her flashing silver scissors and her small, clever hands right through the thing’s engorged belly, its tough hide. See her gaze in the last panel; her no longer-quite-innocent, yet still entirely cherubic countenance is now  impatient, determined, pissed off:  “Wolf, I will fuck your shit up”, it declares.

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Beatriz Martin Vidal’s modern interpretation of the oft-told tale of The Little Red Riding Hood  –with it’s evocative art and unexpected outcome– is a marvelous example of the slightly magical, mythical places she creates for the young people who populate them.  Never cutesy or twee, her subjects instead reveal the beauty and bravery and curiosity of children, and their effortless interaction with the world.

Originally from Valladolid, “a medium size town in the middle-north of Spain” Ms. Martin Vidal chose a career after high school “which didn’t fit her at all” – Law –  and though she stuck with it for some time, she eventually continued on to the University of Salamanca to study art, which is what she maintains that she had wanted to do from the beginning.  Of her time at the University and influences found therein and elsewhere, she says:

“I think the five years in University gave me a very valuable knowledge about art history, among other things. A lot of my influences come from 19th century painting, I think. I keep going back to old masters when I’m trying to find my own path, to Viennese secession, Renaissance drawings, Golden Age illustrators. It’s not I’m not interested in contemporary art of illustration as spectator, but, when it comes to making images, that’s the path I feel attracted to. Anyway, inspiration comes from everywhere.  Sometimes things so unrelated to my work that I feel I’m the only one who can see the relationship.”

For an artist, the pairing of children and fairytale themes would seem to go hand in hand.  When asked what it is that draws her to these subjects, she remarked:

“…Of course, there’s a practical reason for it, as picture books, and most of the illustrated books belong to the children/young readers field. But, the truth is that I find children a very interesting subject for my work. Children live halfway between reality and dreams which inspires me a lot.  They’re funny. If you observe children in a park, they’re doing a lot of things more than the adults. They’re living little stories, running, jumping, talking to themselves. I find their relationship with myths and tales is very natural, very essential… I think almost all my work talks about a flexible reality. A place where you can mold the world …which doesn’t mean it’s going to be a wonderful world, as humans have fears as well as bravery and sadness as well as happiness. ”

Ms. Martin Vidal is currently preparing a picture book, a story by Gustavo Martin Garzo, about children and wolves for El Jinete Azul. As for what’s next:

“…. I’m going to work in another picture book of my own about fairy tales. I love to do my own books, but it’s hard to find the time for it. For the beginning of next year I’ll do a story about a girl and a pixie for Oxford University Press, and a novel for El Jinete Azul. I think my Little Red Riding Hood is going to be published in Australia, so in some months there’ll be an English edition.  Lately I’m trying to focus on my own picture books. That’s the thing that makes happy the most and I think that it deserves the risk [of making them first with no pressure or external limits and then trying to find the right publisher for them.]”

See below for for more wonderful examples of Beatriz Martin Vidal’s work, including selections from her Carmilla, Tarot, and Russian Tales series.  Visit Beatriz for updates and to view her complete portfolio.

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