Imaginistix Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, November 11, 2007
Imaginistix is the name that Boris Vallejo and his wife, Julie Bell, have given to their website, designed to deliver the best of their combined abilities to their fans. Boris has been one of the top stars of fantasy art for nearly forty years, frequently collaborating with his wife who also served as his model for many paintings. Imaginistix is also the name of their brand new collection of fantasy art, just released by Harper Collins. With the team both being former bodybuilders, it comes as no surprise that they have truly mastered the human form an anatomy, perhaps better than any other artist. What strikes me about Boris’ work is that he’s never been one to exaggerate the physical definition of his subjects. Comic artists have long given us forms that were impossibly built…biceps which go far beyond what can be humanly achieved, women with breasts which ought to cause them to tip over should they lean too far one way or another…Boris has never had to exaggerate his subjects because he’s mastered the natural look. His men are muscled and defined…but not impossibly muscled…his women are curved appropriately with both muscles, and yet a natural feminine softness to their physiques.
The work in Imaginistix is a mix of commissions done for magazine publishers, advertising agencies, film productions companies, calendar work, and more. Each page features a full-page piece of art with a few two-page spreads thrown in for good measure. Solo work by both artists is featured along with numerous collaborative efforts. Amazingly, in this high-tech era where so many artists are using Photoshop or Corel Painter, Boris and Julie still work the old fashioned way…in pencil and ink and in oils on canvas. Digital art has come along way in the past twenty years but nothing beats a well-done oil painting.
I think the biggest difference that you see between Boris and Julie’s work is that Boris goes for a bit of a more dynamic approach with lighting and tonal effects. His work tends to shimmer somewhat more than Julie who takes a softer, often romantic, more earthy approach to her pieces, although, may I point out, they are not any less beautiful. In fact one of my favorite pieces in the entire book is one of Julie’s called “The Gift”. Thus painting shows two creatures of myth and whimsy as a centaur presents a bright red rose to a mermaid who is blissfully sunning herself on a seaside rock. Boris has his own masterful painting featuring a hero of myth as Hercules stands poised to hurl a fearsome creature (perhaps the Erymanthian Boar) off a mountainside. And again, we have a powerful, yet naturally muscled figure.
Many may not be aware of their work in advertising but this is a chance to see them working outside of their usual fantasy and sci-fi themes, and working more in the real world. Examples including paintings of sports figures like LeBron James uses for different campaigns. A highlight of the advertising section is a painting they did together for Carlsberg beer depicting a game of soccer between teams of rabbits and magpies.
Vallejo first came to prominence in part due to his many outstanding book and magazine covers from publications such as The Savage Sword of Conan and the Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom adventures. Today, Julie is continuing this tradition with covers to many modern gothic horror novels and her painting “Shades of Vampire” is another of my favorites. Not to be outdone in the vampire theme, Boris provides “Angel Man” a painting featuring the vampire, Spike, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the photo realism of the piece is incredible considering it wasn’t done digitally.
This latest collection proves that Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell are still at the top of their game.
Mania Grade: A
Written By: Anthony and David Palumbo
Art By: Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell
Publisher: Harper Collins