Conceptual alphabets are not easy to get right. Throw in erotic subject matter, and you have yourself a recipe for disaster. Striking the right balance when creating outright explicit illustrated letters so it does not become awkward or vulgar is incredibly hard. And yet Malika Favre managed to do exactly that with her astounding Kama Sutra Alphabet.
The Kama Sutra Alphabet is a personal project from the French born and London based illustrator. It is an extension of the beautiful illustrated new Deluxe Classic Cover of the Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana, commissioned by Paul Buckley at Penguin Books US in 2011. The original cover only had seven illustrated letters composed of intertwined stylised semi-naked bodies which spelled out the title. Starting from those seven letters Malika developed the initial set into a full alphabet of 26 deliciously sensual characters.
The Kama Sutra prints are part of an exhibition project at this year’s Pick Me Up graphic arts festival, which opened today and runs until the 28th of April 2013 at Somerset House in London. Each letter is also available for purchase as a very limited edition of 25 screenprints, signed and numbered by the artist. The full alphabet can be viewed on The Kama Sutra Project website where they have been subtly animated.
I am impressed by how Malika Favre managed to turn these outright explicit illustrations into tasteful, elegant and frankly very sexy letters. I don’t know if this makes me a sexist, but I am convinced that the fact she is a female illustrator played a large part in her successfully pulling this off. It takes a woman’s sensibility to be able to translate sexual positions into such appropriate images that still unabashedly revel in their sensuality. The stylised bodies in simple colours are beautifully interwoven with great attention to detail. Plus I really appreciate there are two same-sex letters, the gay Golden Gate and the lesbian Luscious Ladder – the alliterations are a nice touch.
Read the interview with Mila Kavre on Form Fifty Five, unsurprisingly the most shared article since the relaunch of the website.