Handmade art books in small volume editions from ink painting artist Mafalda Tenente. Slow books for quiet moments, shining a light on details of Japanese arts and celebrating the beauty of the seasons. A cultural publishing bridge between Switzerland, Portugal and Japan.
Of artist books and ink
The connection between ink and artist books is a centuries-old one in Japan. Ink painting model compositions for traditional subjects would be handed over as single sheets from master to student for study purposes. Sometimes these would end up pasted in accordion-format albums or scrolls. Classic tales and poetry would be hand-copied and assembled together with Yamato-style or ink line (hakubyō) paintings illustrating the text. Such albums and scrolls were effectively the first artist books, on an individual object scale.
With the advent of woodblock printing, Japanese ink found a new purpose beyond calligraphy and painting – mass publishing and education. It became possible to reproduce an entire library of ink painting subjects from an individual school or artist’s specialty in stitch-bound books for a variety of audiences – ranging from the pure monochrome black ink small-sized woodblock to the expensive full-sized surimono album. Until the early twentieth century ink painting manual books for schoolchildren and artist books series were still printed with woodblocks and published in the traditional organisational setup, requiring extensive specialty craftsmanship.
Connecting past and present
Today it is economically as well as practically unviable to produce a full artist book this way. But some aspects can be retained, honouring the historical connection between ink and artist books. Enabling it to go on, unbroken. This is the mission of Mafalda Tenente Editions. To create timeless books as art objects, beautifully illustrated in ink using archival quality materials only, minimalist in their footprint and inventory by design, stitch-bound by hand in the same classic Japanese technique by professional artisans. A “slow books”-only corner of the world, as analogue as can be.
image: Mafalda Tenente Editions display at the Japanese Information and Culture Centre, Bern, 2022
All books by Mafalda Tenente Editions can be purchased directly on this website and are also searchable at edcat.net. We are present at Volumes Zurich, the independent art book fair in Zurich, and since 2023 also at ineverread in Basel. “Autumn in Japan” was nominated for the 2022 edition of the Volumes Awards. The book is on tour through Switzerland in 2023-24 with “The Most Beautiful Swiss Books 2022” exhibition.
For avid readers tracking their shelves stats, you can find all our editions on goodreads. You can easily help our books get more visibility simply by adding them to your shelves, rating or posting a review. If you know of a space that welcomes readings and discussions of artist books, do get in touch through info[at]mafaldatenente.com.
We equally welcome requests from retailers with a similar affinity for fine craftsmanship, independent publishing as well as Japanese arts and design. For distribution, artist talks or special events around our books, e-mail info[at]mafaldatenente.com.
Published by Mafalda Tenente Editions
Autumn in Japan
“Travel diaries are gardens set in calligraphy ink strokes , not stones.”
“Autumn in Japan” is an ink painter’s diary of a journey through Japan in the autumn season. A collection of memories seen through the artist’s brush, coupled with a tribute in words to the Japanese tradition of the travel diary. Four metres of daily paintings in ink by Mafalda Tenente are reproduced over nine foldout triptychs, and interspersed with the journey’s narrative. This hand-bound edition includes elements associated with autumn, such as filtered light (komorebi), changing colors (kōyō) or fallen leaves (rakuyō) through its concise creative design.
“Autumn in Japan” is a book for all the travellers out there in search of a contemporary connection to the journeys that preceded them, as well as those who admire the art and literature of Japan.
First Edition available in November 2022.
Nominated for the Volumes Awards 2022
Exhibited in “The Most Beautiful Swiss Books 2022” national tour.
ZB Zürich, Switzerland
Swiss National Library
The Tea House Diary
“Creativity is a well-maintained tea house”, according to ink painter Mafalda Tenente.
“The Tea House Diary” is a minimalist notebook, designed to inspire more creativity. Sprinkled within are five reproductions of ink paintings by the artist, and the daily habits used to keep her own creativity thriving.
This softcover A5 format in a discreet, warm grey cover contains 75 non-lined sheets for personal notes. All shared in a concise format, and shining a light on another detail of Japanese culture. A slow journal, or a mini personal change guide – you decide.
One Moment, One Drawing
“One Moment, One Drawing” is a mini art edition in A6 hardcover format. The edition contains reproductions of twelve drawings created in Switzerland by Mafalda Tenente using Japanese ink painting (sumi-e) technique. A brief introduction to some of the ink painting principles precedes these reproductions, and each book is hand-bound using the traditional Japanese stab binding method. The selection of drawings follows twelve of the twenty-four ancient Japanese seasons of the year, or sekki. Each drawing is a detachable postcard, where you can write your own reflections on the verse. This edition can be enjoyed as a whole, or transformed into new moments of connection to be shared with others.
Second edition available.
ZB Zürich, Switzerland
The book you would like to see is not here? Email your artist book idea to info[at]mafaldatenente.com