art (as work and love)

"Now the bathing-house'll be a bathing-house again," she said. "When the summer's hot and green, and you lie on your tummy on the warm boards of the landing-stage and listen to the waves chuckling and clucking..."

"Why didn't you talk like that in winter," said Moomintroll. "It'd have been such a comfort. Remember, I said once: 'There were a lot of apples here.' And you just replied: 'But now here's a lot of snow.' Didn't you understand that I was melancholy?"

Too-ticky shrugged her shoulders. "One has to discover everything for oneself," she replied. "And get over it all alone."

Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson


I've been revisiting Tove Jansson (painter/comic artist/illustrator/writer) and the Moomins recently. I love the deftness of her writing and art... light and dark, child and adult. 

Sheila Heti on Tove and the power of comics:

One day my mother—who immigrated from Hungary forty years ago—was visiting my apartment. She noticed that on the fridge my boyfriend and I had taped a large picture of Charlie Brown, which we had torn from the pages of The New Yorker. It was just Charlie Brown standing there with his hands at his sides. Upon seeing the picture she stopped and said, “What a nice boy! Who is it?” The remarkable thing wasn’t only discovering that my mother had strangely never encountered Charlie Brown, but that upon seeing him for the first time, she immediately liked him, felt sympathy and tenderness. Until that moment, I had not fully understood the power of comics: I had never witnessed so starkly what a perfect line can summon. A line drawn with love can make us as vulnerable as what the line depicts. Whatever cynicism I had about how commerce creates familiarity creates conditioned responses creates “love,” it crumbled in that instant. An artist’s love for what they create is what creates love.

I hardly read biographies but do recommend Tove Jansson: Work and Love by Tuula Karjalainen (trans. David McDuff) and Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words by Boel Westin (trans. Silvester Mazzarella). I don't like the idea of biography overshadowing one's work (Sylvia Plath's, for example) but did appreciate learning more about Tove's life and philosophy.

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