Le dit des trois vifs et des trois morts, Ex Libris C3, 2015

Elena Hlodec

Le dit des trois vifs et trois morts, C3/Gold Leaf, 2014

Le dit des trois vifs et trois morts, C3/Gold Leaf, 2014

This ex libris is a small pearl denoting an ingenious approach in the treatment of this classical medieval theme of Death.

Comparing it with the known pictorial representations of the legend of the three living and the three dead in manuscripts and painted in frescoes in Churches in several countries, the Artist interpretation of the theme is refreshing and awesome, seen with the eyes of a contemporary to whom the symbols still have a meaning.

The Artist wisely chose to include in the composition several elements:

  1. Representation of the Dead not as skeletons, but rather looking «vif»;

  2. The stained glass alluding to the interior of a Cathedral and the horses, as essential figurative elements of the whole composition;

  3. The labyrinth, with its rich symbolism, bearing the owner’s name and the common text of the poem inscribed “Tel je fus comme tu es, et tel que je suis tu seras / Richesse, honneur et pouvoir sont dépourvus de valeur au moment de votre trépas”; and finally,

  4. The rays “linking” the Dead and the Living.

All these contribute to create a very powerful and attaining composition.

The horses’ heads and the faces of the Living (the middle one looking terrified) and the Dead (slightly blurred and with amazing hands pointing to the Living or holding the horse’s neck…) are superb in the vivid expression of the eyes, the Dead looking at the Living urging them to repent.

Elena Hlodec is definitely an heiress of the Renaissance spirit and a great Artist. Indeed, we do not know many contemporary engravers who would venture to tackle such a difficult theme with the spirituality, depth, and feeling, displayed in this print and even less as a theme for a bookplate! Lucky owner!

I am sincerely touched and impressed!

José Vicente de Bragança, 2015

Ex Libris «Festina Lente», Elena Hlodec

Elena Hlodec
Ex Libris «Festina Lente»
Aldo Manuzio V Centenary
"Festina Lente", C3/C5/Die Cutting/Gold Leaf Collage, 2015

Festina Lente, C3/C5/Die Cutting/Gold Leaf Collage, 2015

As I have written before Elena Hlodec ex libris creations are unique in as much as they are always preceded by a thorough research and reflection of the theme and of the commissioner’s wishes, bearing in mind the final purpose of the ex libris and its connection with books.

The outcome of the final print also derives from the empathy established between the Artist and the ex libris owner, the Aldo Manuzio Ex Libris – «Festina Lente» – being a good example.

The ex libris made by Elena Hlodec for the International Contest of Ex Libris summoned by Associazione Culturale Unitas Onlus and the Comune di Bassiano to commemorate the V Centenary of Aldo Manuzio death under the theme “Aldo Manuzio  from in folio to pocket book. Life and works of the first modern editor. The Ex Libris describe and illustrate” is an absolutely stunning and beautiful print.

The whole conception is an extraordinary achievement interpreting the theme in an original manner, considering that the Artist accomplished the evocation of Aldo Manuzio – as an innovator in the art of printing, as a printer of the classics and as a scholar (namely with his Logo or Emblem) – combined with an allusion to Dante’s Divina Comedia and its full meaning, evoking central ideas of Man, both in Purgatory and Paradise.

As in all her ex libris, one can sense that the final engraving owes much to meditation on the theme and introspection, the Artist working with several sketches till reaching a satisfactory result, before the engraving and printing stages.

Particularly appealing are the ideas expressed in the ex libris central axis «…the angel in the middle reflecting by his stillness the primordial meditation» and «the body representing Man the center of the Universe» pointing both to Pico de la Mirandola and to the Universe in Dante’s Paradise, meaning the structure of a star that transforms into the body and vice versa, unveiled like in first chant of Purgatory when it says to peel off the body to reveal the soul», in the Artist’s own words.

Then, on the left a reminder of Aldo Manuzio’s primordial activity as a printer: «one page of Manuzio’s editions, transmuting the works of the great Greek philosophers into a printed page where Dante was published also with great respect». The «rope and the laurels» is an allusion to Dante, closing the drawing on the right, in a harmonious composition.

Also a further connection between Manuzio and Dante expressed through their portraits (and the Angel) in «dialogue with the silhouettes of the Greek scholars», edited by the former.

The tail of the dolphin transformed, in order to inscribe the mandatory phrase of Manuzio’s centenary bookplate contest and the name of the ex libris owner in the anchor is also very ingenious, without perturbing the whole composition, but again rather in harmony with the whole composition.

The Artist has reasons to feel extremely proud of this work, since it is very impressive, revealing an intelligent, original and highly aesthetic interpretation of this complex theme, having tackled it with superb artistic mastery and denoting inspiration, knowledge, culture and creative powers, qualities which make Elena Hlodec an outstanding Creator, and may I add – a Poet of the pencil and the burin.

For all these reasons, the award by the Jury of the 1st Prize for an International Artist in the above mentioned Contest is not surprising and the Artist deserved it with high merit.

The techniques used were etching and mezzotint with the exquisite gold leaf added to the anchor.

Finally, my association with this superb ex libris honours me and I am happy to use this ex libris in my Library ennobling the editions of the Classics.

José Vicente de Bragança

Dom Telmo José de Bragança (1925-1985) – Ex Libris

A. Gastmans, A. Kalaschnikow, A. Leite, Albert B. Petry, Aulo-Gélio, Bénard Guedes, Berrocal, Câmara Leme, Dom Telmo de Bragança, Isaías Peixoto, J. Kaiser, Maqueda, Paes Ferreira, Terriza

A bibliophile, art collector, amateur photographer and ex libris collector.


Japanese Artists


kamachiKAMACHI SEIJI is an outstanding Japanese graphic artist who has engraved, since 1980, about 100 ex libris mostly using the etching technique.

His works were present at the Japanese Bookplate Exhibition that took place in Ortona (Italy) in 1999.

Kamachi Seiji has entered several international graphic arts or ex libris competitions and has been awarded several prizes recognizing his artistic merits and skills:

  • 4th International miniature prints Exhibition (Seoul, KOREA)
  • 1st International miniature print Biennal (NewYork, U.S.A)
  • 4th International prints Biennal (Lubin, POLSKA) / Medals Prize Special Prize
  • 1st International prints Biennal (Qingdao, CHINA) / Bronze Prize

Member of Japan Print Association he is also the superintendant of DOUMU PRINT ART STUDIO, in Tokyo

Thanks are due to the Artist for his collaboration

Seiji Kamachi. 21 Exlibris by Seiji Kamachi, Volume 1, Tokyo International Museum of Exlibris, 1990

Formerly published at the The Art of the Ex Libris Blog, in June 2009


Father Oriol M. Diví

Spanish Artists, Woodengravings


Further Reading:

Ex-libris d’Oriol M. Diví al meu nom, Teresa Costa-Gramunt (July, 2014)

Oriol Maria Diví Ex-libris, published by Elies Plana in collaboration with the Editorial Gra de Fajol, Barcelona, Granja Grafica, 2011

Revista EX-LIBRIS, # 51, Any XXV, 2013, Associació Catalana d’Exlibristes, Barcelona, 2013.

Ex-libris. Encyclopaedia Bio-Bibliographical of the Art of the Contemporary Ex-Libris, (Mota Miranda, Artur M. da (ed.), Vol. 20, Braga, 1997

Oriol M. Divì, ex libris.  Prof. Dott. Francesc Orenes (Forewrod), “Ex Libris” Col. dir. by Prof. Ernesto Guffanti, Artifex

Ex Libris del P. Oriol Maria Diví

Prof. Hasip Pektas (Turkey)

Turkish Artists
Two recent bookplates created by Prof. Hasip Pektas from Turkey.
He is a Professor at Hacettepe University, Faculty of Fine Arts, apart from being a graphic artist and has been responsible for the widespread of ex libris contemporary movement in Turkey.
With several articles and books published on ex libris both in Turkey and in specialised Journals of several Ex Libris Societies, his work has been shown in more than two dozen exhibitions.
He is also the President of the Ankara Ex-libris Society and Hacettepe Art Museum.

Both ex libris are in CGD and made in 2006.

CGD is a wonderful modern means for the creation and reproduction of bookplates avoiding the great expense involved in traditional engraving and printing methods.

Fig 1

For my books on the Ottoman History and Culture, the ex libris represents music and belly dancing and the monogram (Turga) of the Sultan.

Fig. 2

Represents Sahmaran «the Queen of Snakes» – a mythological legendary figure with human head and the body of a snake.

Artist website