Ex Libris

Conceptually, the human being is the focal point that connects me, the artist, with the transcendental world of metaphysics. Every theme of ex libris (mythology, history, medical, music or literature) is conceived after many hours of profound meditation, drawings, and sketches and is the result of a single, unique moment that is capturing the essence between the inner thoughts and pertinence of the drawing according to the theme.

This is how I reveal the compositional diversity of my works. The style is defined only by depth of introspection into the theme.

I avoid by all means the “flatness” of the image by using the deep meaning of “trompe-oeil” obtained by superposing layers of perspective levels. I enhance the depth of the image by cutting to shape following an almost “sculptural- die cutting”, printed on a paper with no further interventions. The thin line of the edge of the print, in its sharpness, reinforces the effect of volume and depth.

Adding the gold leaf in parts of the image as details of importance substantiates the contrast of the print; sometimes this is “key” that lets you visualize the mystery of the image. The gold is sometimes like an unknown, uninvited character that comes to ask questions of the viewer, which intrigues.

The gold leaf is applied to a paper and the image of the etching is printed on top. This technique was registered and protected in 2011.


Ex Libris 2015

V Centenary Aldo Manuzio, Bassiano
Festina Lente, C3/C5/Gold Leaf Collage, 2015

1st Prize International Artist

Aldo Manuzio Centenary Contest of Ex Libris, Bassiano


“The ex libris made by Elena Hlodec for the International Contest of Ex Libris summoned byAssociazione 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”.

José Vicente de Bragança


 Le dit des trois vifs et des trois morts


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 2011-2014

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Noah’s Ark – Ex Libris Anke Polenz

Noah's Ark - 2014, C3/Die Cutting/Gold Leaf Collage
Noah’s Ark – 2014, C3/Die Cutting/Gold Leaf Collage
2nd Prize DEG Annual Meeting Graphics Competition 2015