Matt Kish, illustration for ‘Heart of Darkness’ (2013), ink and marker on watercolor paper (all images courtesy Tin House)
What’s stunning about Matt Kish’s illustrations for Heart of Darkness — one for every page of Joseph Conrad’s text — is how sunny they are. His modest palette comprises yellow, green, black, and white, with the occasional hit of red, orange, or blue. The novel, on the other hand, is tonally dark: sepulchral and miasmic. In his foreword to this new edition, recently published by Tin House, Kish explains that the choice of colors was his first decision and was informed by an early lesson that “it was folly to think that terrible things happen only in the dark.” To that end, Marlow’s journey into the shadowy, hallucinogenic heart of Africa is here cast under a sun that, as Kish puts it, shines “as brightly and hotly as it does on the happiest of days” (Much like Beckett’s ode to banality in opening to Murphy: “The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new”).
Conrad’s novel, as far as I can discover, has never …read more