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pepita: Inoue meets Gaudí by Takehiko Inoue, translated by Emi Louie-Nishikawa

pepitaA biography, a travel memoir, and a piece of art landed on my desk … as a single book. Verdict? This latest translated-into-English title by mega-bestselling manga creator Takehiko Inoue (Vagabond, Real) is a gorgeous hybrid compilation of text, sketches, photographs, and memories.

Antoni Gaudí is perhaps best known as the architect of the still-unfinished La Sagrada Família, his iconic Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Spain. Inoue’s first impression of the massive work-in-progess during a 1992 visit, he confesses, called to mind words such as “‘deformed,'” “‘strange,'” “‘extravagant.'” He admits, “At the time, my eyes were that of an ignorant and apathetic tourist.” Almost two decades later, Inoue returned to Spain in 2011, when he “retraced Gaudí’s footprints and visited several of his architectural works … and in Gaudí’s structures I experienced the true meaning of the word humility for the first time in my life.” Throughout discovering Gaudí’s works anew, Inoue searches for “‘the seed [the eponymous pepita] of creation,'” both the architect’s and his own.

Inoue’s travels take him from Gaudí’s childhood homes to a final stop at the Façana de la Glòria, one of three La Sagrada Família’s three façades, where Inoue will literally leave his mark. He explores Gaudí’s origins, his compromised health as a child, his family relationships, the effect of too many early deaths around him, and of course his development as an artist. Gaudí’s neverending wonder and respect for nature, his “joys of creation,” prove especially inspiring for Inoue: the ultimate result, “I learned more about myself.”

As appreciative as Inoue is of his “optimal” experiences in Spain, Inoue also realizes that travel to the other side of the world is not always necessary for ‘optimal’ creation: “There are teachers everywhere. The answer can come from anybody. Perhaps I just needed …to remove the lid over my eyes that was blocking my ability to see.” Heed this master: your inspiring pepita of creation just might be right in front of you …

Tidbit: For must-know-every-detail type readers, Viz Media’s meticulous English edition is especially thorough: the last two pages provides citations, experts’ names and titles, and even translations from Inoue’s annotations on his sketches!

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2011 (Japan), 2013 (United States)
© I.T. Planning, Inc. © Nikkei Business Publications, Inc.
Original Japanese edition published by Nikkei Business Publications, Inc.


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