s.l. [Shanty Bay, Ontario]: Shanty Bay Press, . Tall quarto, 37.6 x 24 cm. Cased in quarter blue cloth and light cream Gampi paper over boards. The upper cover is decorated with a five-colour linocut and lettering by Walter Bachinski. Dark blue cloth hinges and light blue endsheets. Top and bottom edges trimmed, fore-edges untrimmed. Housed in a black cloth covered solander box, with a blue paper title label to the spine. Inset to the inside of the box’s upper tray is a matted pochoir triptych by Walter Bachinski: “the design allows one to open up the clamshell case to view the triptych, while reading the poems” (from the prospectus). In creating the triptych, Bachinski drew on his earlier series of large format pastel paintings exploring the theme of Venus. These paintings, in turn, were inspired by his studies of the female form and its depiction by Cézanne, Renoir and Matisse: “the inspiration for the book evolved out of Bachinski’s obsession with representing the female form. His study and understanding of the great paintings of bathers of the late 19th and earlier 20th century in France by the artists Cézanne, Renoir and Matisse encouraged him to do three large pastel paintings exploring this theme over the past several years. The centrepiece of the book, the Venus pochoir triptych has been influenced by these” (Ibid.). pp. [ll. 1: blank; pp. 5] iv-v,  3-21 [3, plus ll. 3: integral rear blanks]. A fine copy. The text was handset in 16pt Bembo and printed by Janis Butler on BFK Rives paper. The text comprises a Preface by Walter Bachinski and three poems on the theme of Venus: Rimbaud’s Sun and Flesh, translated by A.S. Kline; Rilke’s The Birth of Venus, translated by Stephen Cohn; and Pervigilium Veneris, or the ‘Vigil of Venus’, attributed to Tiberianus and translated by Bruce Whiteman. Each of the three poems is accompanied by a full page linocut by Walter Bachinski. The linocuts were printed in black on a colour background: salmon, blue, and green respectively. Each poem is also decorated with a head or shoulder-piece by Bachinski, each printed in two colours. The book is further embellished with a linocut frontispiece and a linocut on the colophon page by Bachinski. The binding was done by Janis Butler. From an edition of only 35 copies issued for sale. The present copy is number 22. Signed in pencil by Walter Bachinski and Janis Butler on the colophon page.
Laid in is a copy of the original prospectus. The prospectus is a bifolium leaflet (26.3 x 18.5 cm closed). It is printed with the title and a linocut in blue and black to the first recto, followed by a description and details of the book on the second recto. Item #414
“I have been obsessed for decades with representing the female form. I have used all the media at my disposal: drawing, painting, sculpture and now, with this project, the book. Two themes that lend themselves to this exploration are Venus, in all her manifestations, and the bathers’ motif. My first drawings and pastels of bathers date back to the early 1980’s, inspired in part, by a year spent in France. The idea of bathers as a subject was well established by the 18th century in France. It is the bathers of Cézanne, Renoir, Picasso, and Matisse that move me and fortunately for us, in North America, many of these paintings have found their way into major museums in the United States. In the Barnes collection are two major Cézanne paintings ‘Bathers at Rest’, his first large bather painting and ‘Nudes in Landscape’, a painting he was working on until his death. In Philadelphia the Museum of Art has a late Cézanne ‘Large Bathers’, as well as a monumental Renoir ‘Bathers’. Equally influential are two Matisse masterpieces, ‘The Joie de Vivre’ in the Barnes Collection and the great ‘Bathers by a River’ housed in the Art Institute of Chicago. Studying these paintings over the years has given me the confidence to try and work with this subject matter.
Over the next two decades, my interest in the bathers and the female form embraced another classical image, the Three Graces. I have done several pastels on this theme. The idea of depicting the ‘Birth of Venus’ began in 2002. Eventually I created three very large triptychs in pastel done over several years, the last one completed in 2013. These works reference the Three Graces, as there is the central figure of Venus on a half shell, flanked by two other females.
Our last book was a selection of stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses illustrated with black and white photogravures. The images for it were closely related to the text, and as such, more like what one usually thinks of as illustration. I wanted to return to making a book which would be more connected to my current studio practice in pastel, where colour dominates and my concerns are more decorative. For this project I designed a pochoir triptych based loosely on the large format pastel paintings on the birth of Venus which I have done over the past decade. It is housed in a clamshell box with a book of poems on Venus. When the box is open the book can be read while viewing the triptych. The images are not meant to be specifically illustrative, but more decorative, with an emotional connection to the words of the poems.
After spending considerable time reading poems relating to Venus, I finally chose three. The first, ‘Sun and Flesh’ was written in 1870 by a youthful Arthur Rimbaud who was only 16 at the time. It is an exuberant, luscious read by a precocious teenager who would turn the world of poetry on its head in only a couple of years. Rainer Maria Rilke is a poet we have used before in our two books on the circus. His short poem from 1907 entitled ‘The Birth of Venus’ describes the sensuousness of the occasion with precision and invention. The last and longest poem ‘Pervigilium Veneris’ or ‘The Vigil of Venus’, attributed to the Roman poet Tiberianus & composed in the 4th century AD, was suggested to me by its translator Bruce Whiteman. It is a description of a festival about the rebirth of spring under the protection of Venus. The combination of these poems and the decorative images are hopefully joyful and life affirming.” — Walter Bachinski.