Noma Bar’s Double Take
The publication of Noma Bar’s new book Negative Space reminds us what a provocative artist he is. Bar’s editorial illustrations pare away the superfluous and cut to the bone of the idea. Using the technique of negative space, he combines a flat graphic silhouetted image with the shape surrounding it to create an illustration rich with meaning. Discovering the image within the image causes the readers to pause and contemplate the larger story being told.
An Israeli-born illustrator Bar studied graphic design and typography at the Jerusalem Academy of Art and Design before moving to London in 2001. His work has appeared in numerous illustrious publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Economist. Bar has said that the inspiration for his distinctive graphic style emerged during the first Gulf War when he was sitting in a shelter with his family. Perusing a newspaper, he happened upon the black radioactivity symbol on a yellow background, which reminded him of the dark eyebrows and mustache of Saddam Hussein. Sketching a silhouette around it, he found that it became an instantly recognizable caricature. Upon relocating to London a few years later, he included the Saddam drawing in his portfolio; its strong concept helped win him his first assignment from Time Out London.