Mateo Pizarro is wildly beyond talented. He does absolutely amazing work, some of which is incredibly detailed miniature work, the Micro-Barroque. He also has an amazing series of drawings done on the pages of On the Origin of the Species.
It’s Pizarro’s Bestiary though, that I chose to focus on today. I have a great love of bestiaries, illuminated manuscripts of all kinds, and cabinets of curiosities. When reading old bestiaries, the descriptors are often much more amazing than the resultant illustration, even when those illustrations are wonderfully improbable. Working with a colleague, Pizarro worked from the descriptions alone, without knowing what animal was being described until he was done drawing. The results are truly fantastical!
The following animals are based on descriptions found in classical sources, or those written by naturalists in their travels. The process we followed involved Maria del Mar searching (in a wide range of books) for passages in which animals are described in peculiar ways, then editing those texts so the animal’s names are excluded from the description. This is central to the project: I don’t know what animal is being described. So the drawings are based solely on the written accounts. The idea is to try to reproduce the experience of a person who reads about some beast he has never seen before (say a hyena or a shark). Before photography and google, this was not an uncommon experience.One of the things we find to be interesting is how wildly different the imagined animal can be to the real one. If you were so inclined, you might spend a little time thinking how many possible versions of the elephant existed in the imagination of Europeans between the Ist and the XIVth centuries, several of whom had heard about them but most had never seen a pachyderm in their lives. You add that to the fact that maps still had vast blank areas in them, and you end up with a version of the world that has a certain kind of infinity to it.
This is going to be a book. The first chapter we did was: https://www.behance.net/gallery/18558221/Beastiary-of-Improbable-animals
Note: you will find the names of the actual animals being described next to each drawing. It should be said that at the time of the writing of most of these texts, many mythological creatures were just as real as cats, wolves, or giraffes. Also, I am of the opinion a giraffe, for example, is just as improbable as any sciapod or unicorn.
Finaly: ahí ustedes disculparán el espanglish.