The sketchbook of Tel Aviv-based artist and lecturer Gary Goldstein has been lovingly reproduced and paired with a prose poem in a new book detailing his parents’ wartime experiences.
Meticulously scanned, designed and reproduced by Tal Solomon Vardy, the founder and CEO of Uncoated Magazine, Bunker is a colourful and chaotic recreation of work that Gary originally made during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the pages of Bunker, readers are presented with a heady mix of Pop art, almost comic-book-style imagery of boxers, children and flaming skulls. Unified with an original poem by Goldstein, it makes for a moving and powerful document of his parent’s experiences of war and how it has continued to affect him in the years since.
“At 18, I left home,” says Gary. “My desire. I intended to flee and save myself from my parents. I grew up in a home with two people filled with trauma and horrible memories.
“At 73, thousands of miles and continents from my childhood home, I find myself locked in a small room. A bunker with my parents. My father spoke very little, actually, not at all about his experiences in the war. Yet, in any interaction, in any question, I could see the looks of horror on his face, in his eyes.
“This sketchbook, the images, and the prose poem deal with the feelings and memories of those feelings. From then and now.”
Speaking to Creative Boom, Gary says Bunker came about thanks to the lockdown restrictions because he suddenly found life very circumscribed, limited, and filled with great uncertainty. “It was a journal. A sketchbook,” he explains with his characteristically clipped prose.
“Like all of my works, I grew up in the United States with two parents who were Jews in Poland during the Second World War. They were incarcerated in ghettos, concentration camps and slave labour camps for six years during the war.
“They were people who were traumatised. The experience of living with them daily, with their nightly screams. During their dreams. Their sleep. The outbursts. The constant terror in their reactions. Their expressions. The experience of growing up in that house. With them. Fuelled and motivated the book Bunker.”
The original sketchbook that would eventually become Bunker was a conventional leather-bound affair. Still, for the reproduction designer, Tal opted for a powerful red hardback cover adorned with an illustration on the reverse. As well as creating the book’s overall look, it was also her task to scan and reproduce the imagery.
“It took several hours to scan the book in high resolution in the Tel Aviv Museum library, and I had to match the colours of the print with the colours in the book to reveal the texture of the markers, pens, and office stickers used on the pages,” she explains.
“Moreover, the bleeds had to be made out of nothing but another 3 mm on all sides of the book, so in essence, I became a ‘digital art restorer’. I was inspired by Tom Hingston’s recreation of [Nick Cave’s sketchbook].”
Speaking of Nick Cave, the renowned musician has recorded a reading of the prose poem that accompanies the book. It’s a moving addition to the already impactful title and further helps to communicate the story of Gary’s parents and the level of care that has gone into Bunker.
“All the images in the book were scanned from a single sketchbook made by Gary Goldstein, and their order remained the same,” adds Tal.
“Including the small original size of the book, it is a one-to-one reconstruction of the existing sketchbook. Since there are no machines here to sew and bind books of this size, all 300 copies were made by hand at the Codaf printing house in Tel Aviv.”