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“Lorenzo Mattotti is Italy’s grand architect of dreams… Mattotti’s rich imagery introduces sensations and depths of emotion new to comics - a breath of wind, the heat of fire, the freshness of woodland, feelings of tribalism, melancholy and peace.”
Paul Gravett

“It happens frequently that I find myself thinking in the shape of splashes of colour. Line is something extremely rigid and a closed world and this form doesn’t interest me any longer.”
Lorenzo Mattotti

Lorenzo Mattotti (1954- ) is without doubt the most dazzling colourist working in comics today. In the UK and US he became known for his comic albums which were translated into English in the 1980s - Fires and Murmur - and in 2003 his adaptation of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde won an Eisner Award. In Europe, he has received wide spread acclaimed for his posters, magazine and fashion illustrations, which regularly appear in Le Monde, Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair, as well as his many other books for adults and children. Mattotti was born in Bresca, Italy, and studied architecture at Venice University. In 1983 he co-founded (together with Giorgio Carpinteri, Igort, Marcello Jori, Daniele Brolli and Massimo Mattioli) the avant garde comics group Valvoline in Bologna, which tore down the borders between comics, illustration, fashion, architecture and design. “At the beginning we were full of enthusiasm and had a lot of freedom. We were more in touch with each other then and discussed our ideas. Today we are less of a group and more individual authors. But we all want to explore new ideas - it would be boring otherwise… Every story is still a discovery.” The publication of Fires in 1986 revolutionised the comic language with its expressive lines and lavish colours and has been inspiring generations of artists ever since. Mattotti currently lives in Paris with Rina and their two children.

Essential Reading:

with Claudio Piersanti
Fantagraphics, 2011

A stunningly illustrated metaphysical thriller by Lorenzo Mattotti. He lives day to day and hand to mouth, this shambling lug of a man, wrestling with his demons, picking up work where he can, and drinking himself into oblivion. Until one days his palms begin to bleed… These newfound stigmata lose him his job, and he ends up as part of a traveling carnival, where he even finds love. But his past catches up with him - violently so. Has he lost his last chance at redemption?

Paul Gravett says:
Wonderful. Just wonderful. One of the finest untranslated European modern masterpieces. OK, if you thought Mattotti was already a grand maestro of colour in Fires and Jekyll & Hyde, wait till you see him unleash his passions in pen and ink linework, and see him excelling across a spectrum from feverish frenzies to the most delicate traceries.

Catalan, 1986

A young navel officer becomes entranced by a magical island and its strange inhabitants. He deserts his ship and crew to save the paradise from destruction.

Paul Gravett says:
Mattotti’s oil-pastel techniques harness the narrative power of fine art: the warmth and vibrancy of Post-impressionism for the magical island; the harsh mechanics of Futurism for the massive battleship; the distortions of Expressionism for the sailor’s altered mental state. No clever homages, these shifts in style always serve the story as well as communicating atmosphere and feeling.

Art Spiegelman says:
“...I got really excited by Lorenzo Mattotti’s work because I’d only seen comics like his in my dreams, things that had that kind of light and shade, texture, and a knowledgeability about what can happen inside a rectangle that I associate more readily with great painters rather than cartoonists. Fires was a breakthrough book.”

Lorenzo Mattotti says:
“I had not felt able to convey nature in my work before… I wanted to communicate my fascination for light, for nature. When you see a film by Tarkovsky or Herzog - the green, the leaves, the clouds, you can’t believe it. How can you explain these things in a comic? How is it possible? That was the challenge.”

Penguin, 1989

While on a mission a bomber pilot loses control of his plane and crashes. As doctors fight to save his life, he has a vision that he has run away to the Troubled Zone, and the journal of his travels is the basis of the narrative in Murmur.






Mattotti in English:
The Raven (2011) with Lou Reed
Stigmata (2011) with Claudio Piersanti
Chimera (2005)
Posters (2002)
Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (2002) with Jerry Kramsky
Murmur (1989)
Fires (1986)

Short Stories:
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall in Bob Dylan Revisited (2009)


Official Site:
Lorenzo Mattotti

Online Resources:
Paul Gravett’s Articles
Film: Fear[s] Of The Dark
Galerie Martel
Prima Linea



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