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Published: June 29th 2012
How does John Bauer see his trolls
No, they are not trolls, what do you think – in today’s Internet: heroes-not-heroes-anti-heroes! They are the real trolls, as Europe and the world saw them a hundred years ago (1911;1912;1913). Not everyone, of course, saw them, but those who became acquainted with the world of John Bauer (1882 – 1918), Swedish painter and illustrator.
Trolls in Scandinavia, especially Norway, are naturally already known in ancient times. But really they are depicted by Henrik Ibsen in his Peer Gynt
and can be heard in Edvard Grieg’s music. However, the particular form they took only in the listener’s mind and imagination. Each had their own trolls – like other mythical creatures and phenomena.
Bauer comes much closer to the trolls – he looks into the troll substantial life and everyday life, throws up many daily commodities, provide different types of troll people. Many times there is just a mood, overall impression, and archaic supernaturalness that’s peculiarly intertwined with the direct, human realities of the world. Well, for example, all trolls are dressed and are of a different gender. Here, for example, can be seen a troll mother – a very characteristic image – who’s trying to get the interest of a girl (princess, fairy) for one of his sons. Look at them
, troll mother said. Look at my sons! You won’t find more beautiful trolls on this side of the moon
. Sons’ faces eradiate no poetry at all, rather the contrary – they are naive or even stupid. All trolls have the ears of the animals. But these are at the same time very different: short and pointed as a fox or wolf, long and pointed as wilted leaves, very long and loose overhanging or completely hidden in hair and are not even visible.
But many times there is also the certainty of the character’s relationship, the kernel of a certain situation. So many illustrations (artist worked mainly in watercolors or draw with ink) has expanded captions from fairy tales, illustrated by Bauer. One of the most significant and well-known pictures is that of a sad girl (princess, fairy) image near the water. Princess Tuvstar still stares at the water looking for her heart
. Here, as in the almost every picture we feel the impact of Art Nouveau lines and symmetrical arrangement of shapes, tiny decorative details, small turns, curls, waves. Please, note how stems of trees curved, rounded grow directly into stones – it shows the environment even fiercer, coarser… Otherwise tree roots delicate trace its winding, branching, nodes and prongs.
Here is another, related feature of plot and character – Changeling
. When she woke up again she was lying on the moss in the forest
.Trolls used to steal people’s children, and exchanged them for their owns. It is a characteristic motif in many folk tales and legends. Girls in both cases with their pale, even white color applications are very different from the environment and, of course, the trolls. Trolls mostly are brown or brown and blend into the environment.
Something like this is here, too. Especially referring the colors. But also two different worlds, different societies
. One summer’s evening they went with Bianca Maria deep into the forest
. Note the huge stones and gigantic stems. They distinguish brittleness, fragility of the girl.
And one more girl. Now a real princess (human or fairy), but a sad, thoughtful, meditative one. The Princess in the Forest
. And the background again quite a strict, hard, bleak.Trolls themselves are not here at all, but it is their area, their forest and land …
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