Douglas Coupland is opening an art exhibit, aptly named The Penguins, in Toronto tomorrow, which features collages he has created with old covers of Penguin paperbacks. The show is the first of several he is planning that examine the “relationship between books and visual culture,” according to an enthusiastic post on the Torontoist.
The new show takes moldy, dusty and yellowed mass-produced Penguin paperbacks, and attempts to imbue them with the sense of vitality and energy that they once possessed. In 1935, The Penguins were famously successful on all levels: they were academically revered and founder Allen Lane wanted the books sold alongside cigarettes, at the same price.
Coupland is a visual writer who excels at many arts; the myth says that he hasn’t mastered any one form. Bollocks! Artist/poet William Blake had the same image problem back in the eighteenth century.
Drawing parallels with William Blake is heading into high altitudes, but photos of a few of the works shown on the Torontoist site and Coupland’s own do look pretty cool. Maybe not as avant-garde as the pages of Generation X that he “hand-chewed” and formed into a wasps’ nest, but still pretty cool.