The Master and Margarita
Klimowski’s graphic novel, The Master and Margarita (127pp.), was produced in collaboration with Danusia Schejbal as a visual translation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel of the same name. The publication adapts Bulgakov’s imaginative story, investigating and interpreting its geographical and temporal complexity, and the circumstances in which it was produced. The narrative structure of the graphic novel echoed Bulgakov’s work in its fragmentary and stylistically varied nature.
Klimowski designed a linocut typeface to echo the angular Cyrillic Russian typefaces of the period. The publication’s fragmentary form was intended to suggest the cacophony of urban life reflected in the novel’s two episodic narrative streams, presenting a kaleidoscopic picture of 1930s Moscow. The costumes, locations and Communist contexts of the Soviet theatre world were accurately researched at institutions in Poland, including Czytelnik, SPATiF and Academy of Fine Arts Library, Warsaw. The theatrical world that the novel depicts was heightened through the use of saturated colour, whilst the other Moscow locations were produced in monochrome in tune with the style and lighting of late 1920s cinema.
Launched with an exhibition of original artworks at the Polish Embassy, London, the book received numerous reviews in the national and international press (e.g. New Statesman, The Guardian, The Times, Design Week, Rzeczpospolita (Poland)), and was serialised in the Italian newspaper La Stampa; Guanda Graphic later published it in Italy. It was also published in other translations: Holland (Atlas), Czech Republic (BB Art), Greece (Clip Art), Turkey (NTV/Dogus) and Russia (Corpus). Klimowski was invited to talk about the adaptation at the London Literature Festival, Southbank Centre in 2008 and interviewed by Polish television. The Theatre de Complicite was inspired by the graphic novel adaptation when preparing a staged version at the Barbican Centre London (March/April 2012) and in acknowledgment reproduced several of the book illustrations in the programme.