Here is an illustration by Patricia Gutiérrez that I stumbled on accidentally while researching another artist entirely. It’s for the poetry book Árbol de Diana (Diana’s Tree or Tree of Diana) by Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik. I can find nothing on the illustrator Patricia Gutiérrez specifically. I thought at first it may be the same artist as Patricia Schnall Gutierrez, but I don’t think it is. Their styles are completely different, and Schnall Gutierrez doesn’t seem to sign her work. There is, however, a wealth of information about Alejandra Pizarnik. I won’t go into the details here but her life was quite tragic, culminating in her eventual suicide at age 36, but not before she published several books of well-regarded poetry which focused on the recurring themes of her life: childhood, loneliness, physical and mental suffering, and death. She also had published a prose essay called “La condesa sangrienta” (“The Bloody Countess”) about Countess Bathory, possibly the most prolific female serial killer in history.
Árbol de Diana was Pizarnik’s fourth book of poetry and her most well-known, partly due to its prologue by another, more highly esteemed Hispanic poet, Octavio Paz, who had befriended Pizarnik during her years in Paris, France. Most of the poems are short and almost elemental in their makeup, but not without dazzling turns of phrase. One poem (in the Yvette Siegert translation) reads:
She leaps, shirt on fire,
from star to star,
from shadow to shadow.
She dies of a distant death
this lover of the wind.
I cannot exactly discern the meaning of the drawing in relation to the poetry. The closest I could come was from this four-line poem:
The little traveler
died explaining her death
wise nostalgic animals
visited her hot body
Could this be our late little traveler, escaping the mortal cage of her body and flying up to heaven with the help of some of those wise nostalgic animals? I think so. I love that she is not entirely nude. She is wearing her coat, her socks and one shoe. Often partial nudity is fetishistic, but here is a case where it isn’t. This, to me, is a metaphor that our young traveler has not entirely relinquished the trappings of her life. She is still attached to the world that she’s left behind and thus not quite a soul washed clean. Perhaps she will get there eventually, but not yet.
Incidentally, you can read the entire book of poems (as translated by Joseph Mulligan and Patricia Rossi) here. It’s not long. You can finish all of it in a few minutes.