There’s a Chinese calligraphic tradition called Dishu, which is commonly practiced in the parks of Beijing, among other locations. Its salient elements include brushstrokes of water and the use of the ground as a canvas. It’s been well documented by François Chastanet, and, it turns out, well appreciated by Edmond Baudoin, the noted French artist. Baudoin once observed it firsthand, as he recounts in Laetitia Carton’s documentary Edmond, a Portrait of Baudoin. “And as he wrote,” he exclaims therein, “the trace was vanishing!” For Baudoin, the activity expresses “the philosophical relationship between permanence and the ephemeral.”
A fascination with ephemerality also comes through in Baudoin’s 1998 graphic memoir Piero, whose new edition features an English translation by Matt Madden and lettering by Dean Sudarsky. The book is titled after the author’s younger brother, with whom he spent a childhood immersed in numerous imaginative escapades in Nice and Villars-sur-Var. Those experiences are among Piero‘s key recollections, the tone of which is established by an initial pen sketch of a plane tree and its descending leaves. The image’s inky pools of black collide with tangles of line work to suggest the vague contours of memory.