Walton Ford, Pancha Tantra
The beautifully savage beasts and birds of Walton Ford
At first glance, Walton Ford’s large-scale, highly-detailed watercolors of animals may recall the prints of 19th-century illustrators John James Audubon and Edward Lear, and others of the colonial era. But a closer look reveals a complex and disturbingly anthropomorphic universe, full of symbols, sly jokes, and allusions to the “operatic” nature of traditional natural history themes. The beasts and birds populating this contemporary artist’s life-size paintings are never mere objects, but dynamic actors in allegorical struggles: a wild turkey crushes a small parrot in its claw; a troupe of monkeys wreak havoc on a formal dinner table, an American buffalo is surrounded by bloodied white wolves. The book’s title derives from The Pancha Tantra, an ancient Indian book of animal tales considered the precursor to Aesop’s Fables.
This large-format limited edition includes an in-depth exploration of Walton Ford’s œuvre, a complete biography, and excerpts from his textual inspirations: Vietnamese folktales and the letters of Benjamin Franklin, the Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini and Audubon’s Ornithological Biography.
Ford’s paintings have been color-separated and reproduced in Pan4C, the finest serigraphic technique available, providing unequaled intensity and color range. The book includes 11 horizontal and 4 vertical fold-outs that look awesome when you stand over them. And you will.
Available in an Art and a Collector’s Edition, Walton Ford: Pancha Tantra is signed by the artist and presented in a custom clamshell box.
Both editions feature a complete biography and excerpts from the textual sources for the paintings: Vietnamese folktales, the letters of Benjamin Franklin, the Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini and John James Audubon’s Ornithological Biography.
Walton Ford, born 1960, studied filmmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design, but soon realized he was a painter. For the last 20 years he has been creating large-scale narrative watercolors. His work has been widely exhibited, including solo shows at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin and the Brooklyn Museum in New York.
Bill Buford is an author and New Yorker staff writer, as well as the founding editor of Granta, which he edited for 16 years. His books include Among the Thugs and Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as a Kitchen Slave. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.
Collector’s Edition (No. 101–1,600)
Walton Ford. Pancha Tantra
Limited to 1,500 individually numbered copies, each signed by Walton Ford
Printed on archival-quality paper
Finished in book cloth with a leather spine and corners with gold embossing
Packaged in a clamshell box covered in Luxor book cloth
37.5 x 50 cm, 354 pages
Multilingual Edition: English, French, German