Sunday, March 24, 2013

Portrait of Lisane da Patagnia, by Rachel Swirsky

Fine art and literary fantasy associate very closely, so closely it's hard to separate them.  Art seems to reach into the same mental space as fantasy, using imaginative perception to see how things "are" as impressionists see space.  Major contrast with science fiction, where mechanical arts and technology dominate.  Portrait of Lisane da Patagnia gives a straight-up combination of art and magic--artists can use magic to enhance their work.  The catch--the process of enhancing a representation with magic damages or destroys the original.

Our protagonist has the gift of using magic in painting, but little else.  The why of that is explained through her relationship with her master, Lisane da Patagnia, last in a line of genius painters.  Lisane lives by no ordinary codes.  And she finally asks her former apprentice to break the last code--to paint her with magic before she dies.  What happens when a painter attempts such a thing?

Good storytelling, with bold and slashing color.  A good and worthy read, 3 stars from me.

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