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  • Peter ŠkerlIllustrator–Slovenia

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Peter Škerl (born in 1973) is one of the most remarkable representatives of the Slovenian younger generation of illustrators, with an oeuvre that is already very impressive. He graduated in Illustration and Visual Communications Design at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His artistic expression soon focused on illustration for children; he has illustrated about forty children's books (fiction and non-fiction) and many articles in Slovenian children's magazines.

Peter Škerl is an old-school master, absolutely dedicated to the task that he determines for himself. His illustrations for Marshlanders by Barbara Simoniti have become a milestone in Slovenian illustration—particularly in terms of execution. His painting methods are extremely complex. Each phase of painting is executed meticulously, down to the last detail. Each character is a separate "model" with unambiguous character traits and a clear role that they play throughout the story. Character traits are supported by body language, as are the interpersonal dynamics between story protagonists. Scenery is detailed, as well as unusual, dramatic, and made extremely convincing, even spectacular, by Škerl's skillful use of light and shadow. In final illustrations, the heroes, events, and settings come together in powerful compositions, both in terms of image and in terms of narrative. It is obvious that Škerl enjoys these "scene plays": everything is always complex, but most importantly, everything betrays Škerl's knowledge of "play mechanics," as he had spent years as a member of an amateur theater company. All Škerl's books unfold with deliberate rhythm and mood changes. The same goes for the colors he uses. These are not colors "straight out of the tube" but rather meticulous studies of emotions guided by the story.

However, while everything is designed, composed, and thoroughly directed, the images turn out effortless, and our experience of the illustrations does not reflect their construction. Everything is soft and light, coincidental and natural, and last but not least, emotional. What makes his works magical is invisible to the rational mind—he uses this je ne sais quoi masterfully, and we recognize it in Škerl's works as the powerful, original, personal mark that we call his style. [End Page 61]



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