Maylis de Kerangal
Maylis de Kerangal’s _Painting Time_ plunges readers into the world of Paula Karst, a young woman who discovers a passion for trompe l’oeil painting techniques. After beginning her studies at the famous Institut de Peinture in Brussels, Paula meets two new lifelong friends – both enigmatic, resourceful, impulsive, and gifted. Together the three weave a complex relationship that mirrors the interconnectedness of their artistic materials. Replicating the grain of wood, the wear of marble, or the protrusion on a tortoiseshell requires method, technique, talent … but also something else. Paula strives to understand what she’s painting, both the “micro” that she is and the complex “macro” of the world and its history.
Paula’s apprenticeship is punctuated by hard work, sleepless nights, sore muscles, and saturnalian evenings. After completing her studies, she continues to practise her art in Paris, in Moscow, and then in Italy at Cinécittà, on the sets of great films – dream factories! – as if rehearsing for her grand finale: Lascaux IV, a life-sized replica of the world’s most famous paleolithic cave art and a zenith of human cultural expression.
In this exquisite and highly aesthetic coming-of-age novel, expertly translated by Jessica Moore, Kerangal mirrors the enchanted materialism of her protagonist’s artistic journey in her rich, lyrical prose.