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(In a Sense) Lost and Found

Review

(In a Sense) Lost and Found

In a relatively short period of time, visual artist Roman Muradov has risen in notoriety within the artistic community and beyond, getting consistent work from such esteemed clients as The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vogue, NPR, and the Wall Street Journal. Muradov’s artistic style instantly draws you in --- he describes his own work as “trying to create the feel of a beautiful melody on a tuneless instrument by someone who is on the verge of having a breakdown.” A very clear picture of chaos, as anyone familiar with his work could attest.

His latest from Nobrow, (IN A SENSE) LOST AND FOUND, is a story of loss yet also of change, and of gaining something in which Muradov writes dialogue. LOST AND FOUND takes the idea of innocence (get it now?) and makes it a tangible thing.

"Muradov’s signature use of a brushed pen and ink technique give motion and purpose to each panel. His work harkens back to visual iconography from the early 1930s or 40s, evoking the hustle and flow of a bustling world and the popularization of jazz in art."

The tale begins with the precocious main character, the slyly named F. Premise, waking up to find her own innocence lost --- although, tactfully, Muradov never refers to it as ‘innocence’ throughout the story, save for the very first sentence. Rather, he addresses it in phrases that trail off, as if Premise and the other characters of the story know the dire consequence of losing such a thing.

But what is innocence, really, in such a literal sense of the term? Muradov explores this idea with very few words throughout the book’s 56 pages, but conveys the sense of how important innocence can be, especially to one who has recently lost it. The metaphor is heavy, and by making innocence into something that can be physically misplaced, he also shows how one might claim ownership over it, be completely changed without it, and how others might conspire to  manipulate or copy it.

The aspect of the work that is hardest to grasp immediately is Muradov’s use of such charming wordplay; it almost makes the plot feel like a dream, or a strange retelling of a story by a child. Substituting a word like 'seizure' in place of the phrase "sees your" is an example of what Muradov achieves with seemingly little effort, and that might briefly jolt the reader out of the broad expanse of the story. The feel of this book is akin to having a conversation with a Picasso painting --- the reader must take care when reading each word, and attempt to understand each brushstroke to its fullest.

The art here is perfect for the idea that is being conveyed. Muradov’s signature use of a brushed pen and ink technique give motion and purpose to each panel. His work harkens back to visual iconography from the early 1930s or 40s, evoking the hustle and flow of a bustling world and the popularization of jazz in art. The story, following the loss of F. Premise’s innocence and her subsequent journey to gain it back, sees our heroine represented in a soft, delicate way, while the places and people around her are often much more angular and chaotic. This creates a singular mood for the entire book, one of the necessity to regain innocence and also the challenges of coping with the world without it. Sweeping browns, reds, and golds show the reader beautiful stretches of fascinating set pieces --- from a strange bookstore to busy buses and even black market acquisitions. Each panel has its own story to tell, and helps give the reader more insight into the few actual words on the page. Deep blacks and smoke trails lend a seediness to the more otherworldly areas into which the story wind. Occasionally, panels blend together to make a larger picture when the page is viewed in full, creating a truly masterful and unique experience.

This might be a book you would pass by on first glance, especially if you are not familiar with the incredible work of the artist. But to do so would be to miss an adventure through prose and art that takes hold of you, and lingers in your mind long after you finish. Bound beautifully in a gilded hardcover, this volume is something truly special. The plot follows a journey we all must one day experience --- the sudden and inevitable loss of innocence.  That premise is rooted deep within all of us, and this book makes for a delightful, imaginative, and highly artistic take on life and loss.

Reviewed by Jeff Ayers on August 15, 2014

(In a Sense) Lost and Found
by Roman Muradov

  • Publication Date: September 9, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction, Graphic Novel
  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Nobrow
  • ISBN-10: 1907704957
  • ISBN-13: 9781907704956