Rage of Poseidon is Beautiful as a Story and as an Object

“Reviews: “Rage of Poseidon” and “In the City”” / Project Space / Asia Harvey / November 18, 2013

The much-anticipated edition of Anders Nilsen‘s Rage of Poseidon was originally released last year as a handmade volume. Rage of Poseidon takes the reader on a romp through seven tales featuring mythological deities and Old Testament characters. The narrative follows the decline of Western man’s belief in a pantheon of deities and the subsequent rise of his faith in a Christian God. Familiar characters are recast in contemporary situations, updating parables and injecting them with Nilsen’s dark humour.

Nilsen’s modernized tales bring to life characters like Poseidon, who has come to accept that man no longer worships him, and has developed a penchant for iced lattes that is second only to his love for ambrosia. In another chapter, Isaac survives his father Abraham’s homicidal proclivities to return his attention to first-person-shooter gaming. Meanwhile Bacchus is involved in the dodgy nightlife of Las Vegas, while Athena wakes up with a bad hangover and begins to rethink her party-hard lifestyle.

Nilsen’s artist book is a hardcover affair that opens accordion-style, revealing silhouette illustrations that are reminiscent of work by artists like Kara Walker and hearken back to 17th-century paper-cut silhouettes. The shadowy drawings are by necessity pared down to their most basic—and most revealing—elements. The problem of depicting the divine, for instance, is bypassed by alluding to characters through their contours. Nilsen’s unwillingness to disclose superfluous visual details forces the reader to imagine what lurks in the undefined darkness, a process that was satisfying to this reader in and of itself.

Rage of Poseidon is beautiful as a story and as an object. The hardcover edition was released on October 29, 2013 through Drawn & Quarterly.

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