Pepita by Takehiko Inoue

Pepita: Takehiko Inoue Meets Gaudi

This has been a very good year for fancy hardcover editions of manga materials. There’s Gundam: The Origin, Wandering Son is still coming out, Heart of Thomas, and the Nausicaa box set was great. This book, about Takehiko Inoue’s architectural tour of Spain and specifically Gaudi works isn’t filled with enough drawings to be an art book, and it doesn’t have enough biographical or written content about Gaudi to be a true study of the man. Instead, we get an interesting travel sketchbook that reveals as much about Inoue’s artistic process as it does about the subject he’s exploring.

I started reading this without much knowledge of Gaudi other than the fact that he was an architect who explored form in an innovative manner. Inoue travels to Spain to get a sense of the man and his approach to designing with nature. Inoue’s reflections come in the form of written thoughts and some exuberant drawings, as he comes up with his own interpretations of Gaudi’s trademark mosaic salamander. Throughout the book we get impressions of Gaudi’s life and some of his most significant work. Inoue’s illustrations are sometimes superimposed on photos, which creates an interesting effect. Inoue’s questions and struggle to understand Gaudi show the reader a great deal about Inoue’s artistic process and artistic approach. There’s enough information about Gaudi in the book that I felt I came away from it slightly better informed, but I thought I’d have to do even more study to really grasp the topic.

In the end, this hybrid art book gives the reader a feeling as if they’ve just spent a little bit of time on an architectural tour of Spain with Takehiko Inoue as their tour guide. This is a pretty good feeling to have! Serious students of architecture might not find the book very informative, but to a casual reader with an interest in Gaudi, this book is worth checking out. I always think that any book by Inoue is worth reading, and I did enjoy this very much.

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