Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Malcolm McNeil • William S. Burroughs: The lost art of Ah Pook at Solomon Arts, NYC


"A tornado of vigilantes sweeps up from the bible belt" (The image the FBI called "Frightening") from Ah Puch Is Here art work by Malcolm McNeill, © 1975

Salomon Arts
 is pleased to present artwork and prints from the unfinished Word/Image novel Ah Pook is Here. A remarkable seven-year collaboration between the writer and artist, rediscovered after more than thirty years, and now publicly shown for the first time.

November 14 — December 14th, 2008
Opening Reception
Friday, November 14th
6-10 PM

83 Leonard Street, 4th floor (Tribeca)
New York, NY 10013

The show will continue through December 14th. Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays 2-6pm or by appointment , tel. 1.212.966.1997


"Over the years of our collaboration Malcolm McNeill produced more than a hundred pages of artwork. However, owing partly to the expense of full color reproduction, and because the book falls into neither the category of the conventional illustrated book, nor that of a comix publication, there have been difficulties with the arrangements for the complete work. The book is in fact unique...”

                   William S. Burroughs
  April 1978

MALCOLM MC NEILL and WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS began working together in London in 1970 when Mc Neill was in his final year of art school. Their first collaboration was a comic strip titled The Unspeakable Mr. Hart which appeared in the English magazine Cyclops. When the magazine folded, Burroughs and Mc Neill decided to continue the project in book form.

   After a year and a half of research and preliminary design work, the text had expanded from 11 to 50 pages, and the proposed 120 page “Word/Image novel” was renamed Ah Puch is Here - after the Mayan Death God. As Burroughs indicated, there was no market for ‘Graphic Novels’ at that time and the lack of publishing and financial incentive meant that the artwork was never able to be produced on a full-time basis. After 7 years, it was finally abandoned. The book was subsequently published in text form only as Ah Pook is Here.

The project was prescient both with respect to its form and its content. In light of the current ‘End of Days’ hysteria, the ‘War on Terror’, and the added feature of the Mayan Long Count in 2012, it is more timely than ever. Ah Pook is unquestionably Here now.

The artwork has not been altered since 1977 when the project ended and it was placed in storage. The printed images are the same size as the originals and assembled as they were intended to be reproduced. They range from preliminary sketches, to more complete images to finished art, some of which occur on the same page. Apart from 11 pages of completed text and image published in Rush Magazine in 1976, none of the work has been shown publicly before.

Mc Neill continued to illustrate other Burroughs texts, many of which were published and some of which are included in this exhibit. The writer and artist remained friends until Burroughs death in 1997. Mc Neill has recently completed an illustrated account of their personal and creative interaction, also “in hopes of seeing eventual publication.”

For more information about this event click here

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