What better way to celebrate the legendary Jiro Taniguchi’s 70th birthday and commemorate his life’s work than by showcasing Venice – the last ever book he created before sadly passing away.
After Taniguchi’s mother dies aged 78, the author discovers a beautifully lacquered box containing old hand-drawn postcards and photos of the city of Venice. One photo of Piazza San Marco particularly catches his eye. It is of a Japanese couple feeding a multitude of pigeons in the square dressed in what looks like 1930’s style. Who were they? What relevance did they have to his mother?
Armed with the contents of the lacquered box he travels to Venice to track down the places and events in the images and to discover the identity of the young couple in the old photograph…
Venice is a stunning portrayal of the unique city and of one man’s quest to discover more about his family’s past. It seems to me that Jiro uses the opportunity to explore the region his grandfather used to reside in and the city in which his mother was born to, in order to find a sense of solace from her passing.
The soft brush strokes and pastel colours in Jiro’s iconic watercolour style invoke a sense of nostalgia. Through his subtle art, Jiro expertly conveys feelings of loss and abandonment, as well as enlightenment as he discovers more about his grandfather.
Having travelled to Venice many times myself, I was sorely impressed by Jiro’s glorious representation of it. He manages to capture the unique and somewhat surreal quality of the city, alongside its picturesque beauty.
Jiro Taniguchi’s final book is a masterpiece. Not surprising in the least that he would go out with a bang, leaving us with an exquisitely lacquered edition to remember him by.
Venice by Jiro Taniguchi is published by Fanfare and releases on 14th August 2017 (£19.99, p/b, 128pp, 9781912097043)