Artist Faye Wei Wei collaborated with Manon Lutanie on a small but powerful book of drawings, published with the support of Ears gallery
The title of a new book by the artist Faye Wei Wei got its name from the shade of green used to create the design on its front cover: Hooker’s Green Lake. “It’s from Old Holland and it’s so weird and haunting as a color, it sinks so well into the paper and it lets out its binding oils and gets pretty boggy,” Wei explains via email, before the publication of the book by Éditions Lutanie, with the support of the Cob Gallery in London. “I like the idea of looking at a green lake, and with that intensity of pigment, it must be a lake at night, maybe seen in moonlight.”
Produced in close collaboration with the publisher Manon Lutanie, Hooker’s Green Lake is a collection of recent works on paper by Wei Wei. “It’s a very humble publication: it’s a stapled binding, with a deliberately simple graphic principle,” says Lutanie. “We loved the idea of making the object simple, but ultimately precious. This resonates with Faye’s designs, which often have a raw, almost naive feel, and at the same time an intrinsic treasure-trove quality. Having met through a mutual friend – Leopold, whose portraits appear in Hooker’s Green Lake as Wei Wei “tried to kiss him in a certain way and comfort him from afar” this year – the couple quickly decided to work together, both admirers of each other’s work. Wei Wei notes Lutanie’s “eye for beauty”: “I knew his book René Ricard in this magnificent pale green cover,” she says.
Wei Wei’s art is recognizable for its romance and lyricism, often featuring symbolic creatures drawn from myth and figures based on the artist’s close circle of friends. She cited the feeling of being inspired by stories, movies, poetry and paintings – meditating on Hooker’s Green Lake color, she mentions Cy Twombly’s 1980s Green paints, and Virginia Woolf’s Blue and green – but the restrictions imposed on London this year have provided Wei Wei with alternate, bittersweet inspiration for these new pieces. “The drawings are mostly from this year, during confinement. My friend Dora passed away and it left a big hole in my heart. And so I was drawing and filling in sheet after sheet of love and I was hungry for a new language, ”she says. “I was fascinated by the creation and the designs surprised me – they feel unexpected, they were born out of real pain, but also out of real love.” Dyed with the pain of separation and loss, the drawings of Hooker’s Green Lake take on a new tenderness. “You can’t help but think of the people you love when you draw, it comes out before you even know how you feel, there is a magic that I really believe in. “
A special edition of 45 copies of Hooker’s Green Lake will come with a photograph signed by Wei Wei. “The designs have an almost timeless quality, while the images are clearly of our time,” says Lutanie. “Faye often works from photographs of her friends, and it’s interesting how the photographs relate to the designs in the book.” Where Wei Wei’s drawings have ethereal, sometimes otherworldly qualities, the accompanying photographs are poignant in a different way; in the context of this year and the changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, they become reminders of this unique period.
The book, created with care for a year unlike any other, carries a message of hope. Wei Wei compare Hooker’s Green Lake to the soothing rituals of food preparation: “Tonight I’m cooking stuffed and rolled cabbages for dinner – it’s a labor of love, tucked away filling each leaf and rolling up neatly, tenderly, and this little book is the same , I hope. It’s something that I really love and believe in, something that is part of my heart that anyone can have a time with. Lutanie adds, “An important aspect of Faye’s work is to document and cherish a community of friends and loved ones. I am happy to end this year of fear and distance by publishing our little book which brings together vibrant portraits of this community.
Hooker’s Green Lake by Faye Wei Wei is out now, published by Éditions Lutanie with the support of Cob Gallery.
Coinciding with the publication of Hooker’s Green Lake, Cob Gallery launches new prints and prints by Wei Wei, available for purchase in line.