The exhibition of illustrations by Lila Prap from the book Dragons?! is really a painting exhibition. Superb illustration is also superb fine art anyway. This may seem self-evident, but it is not always the case. Some illustrations work as pictures in their own right, while others work well primarily in the context of a book, accompanied by a text. Lila’s illustrations are excellent as part of a book and equally excellent as individual exponents in an exhibition. Almost all of Lila’s books are her own through and through. Everything in the books is hers – the ideas, the text, the images and the design – which is why we have so little work with their preparation in the publishing house. And on publication, the result is always overwhelming.
Lila Prap’s books are proverbially cosmopolitan. This is not just a nice phrase; it is borne out by the translations of her works all over the world. In listing the translations, one could start in North or South America, Europe, Asia or Australia. Lila is a star in Japan, each new book is anxiously awaited at Chinese trade shows, and so on. A publisher in South Africa contacted us because they are very interested in the books and would like to translate them into who knows how many local dialects. I am currently aware of about 38 languages, but it seems that I may not have the most recent information.
Lila’s aesthetics and execution are obviously equally exciting throughout the world, which is an interesting riddle. On first glance, her pictures seem very straightforward. Their design is simple: an unusual drawing with a thick worm-like black line, while the areas between the lines are filled with an almost pure, uniform colour. But the first impression is deceptive; on closer examination we see that the picture is actually a carefully studied architectural composition. In the process of creation, each image undergoes numerous tiny shifts and a lot of paper finds its way to the waste bin until it is exactly the way Lila wants it to be. And she is by no means easily satisfied; quite the opposite. She then adds colours in the form of coloured chalk, with each colour containing at least four or five shades. Patiently and with tremendous sensitivity, she applies powdery gossamer colours to the surface. The final effect of a blaze of colours is a single vibration. Even at this stage, it sometimes “goes wrong”, a tiny “mistake” occurs and work on the picture begins again.
In the face of all of this perfection, we cannot for a moment overlook the superb humour that is an essential element in the creation of each book. In a way, it is the source of all of Lila’s activity. Humour, yes, but backed by highly imperceptible professional study and a great deal of consultation with experts in the field treated by the text.
The book Dragons?! is Lila’s twentieth original picture book. She creates one every year, and each one is a success.
Lila is a painter who is not affected by the tradition of Slovenian illustration in a straightforward way, perhaps only in her attitude to work. She is singular and unique. It is not a joke with her.
Art Editor of Mladinska knjiga Publishing House
The exhibition has been prepared in cooperation with Mladinska knjiga založba d.d.
We recommend using the funicular railway to visit the exhibition.