Artist Samuel Araya, toiling away in what he calls “the poison heart of South America,” paints fascinating, ominous scenes and characters. The mists swirl, the landscapes are moody and unfamiliar, creatures of ancient magic and obvious menace stare at you and through you. Araya is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and the occult, and in recent years has paid particular attention to Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, providing illustrations for an annotated edition from Arcdream Publishing.
Much like a character in Chambers’ seminal work, I have obsessed over The King in Yellow since I read it as a teenager in pursuit of all things Lovecraftian. Read after read, tale after tale, year after year, the book fed my imagination with dark and decadent scenes.
Araya’s long-held interest in The King in Yellow was reignited by its appearance in mainstream entertainment.
In 2014, while I was thinking, “Why has nobody ever commissioned me to illustrate The King in Yellow?,” the show True Detective hit and fueled my motivation to pursue my own vision of the text. At the time, due to my practice in the occult, I was immersing myself in the symbology of alchemy. … My intention was also to steer away from what has been done before. While an obvious influence of Beksinski and Bocklin permeates my work, I tried not to repeat the same images we have seen in the many gaming adaptations of the text. I didn’t wanted the figure of the King in Yellow to stay the same in every image. On the contrary, I wanted it to portray the multiple interpretations that stayed with me over the years.
Araya hopes his contribution to the King in Yellow heritage will bring the work to a new audience.
These connections are to me a gateway for the intellect and imagination, the search for new forms of beauty through the experience of all forms of art. Chambers was indeed right. The King in Yellow is a cursed book, a book that curses the reader’s mind’s eye with beauty like no other. I sincerely hope my work at least suggests a glimpse of that, and at the same time brings you joy and enriches your journey through each page.
The King in Yellow may be Araya’s largest undertaking, but it’s not the only place you’ll see his imagery. His unsettling occult scenes have made him an in-demand artist for book and album covers, and he also produces personal work you can find on his official site and through his Patreon page. Additionally, you might want to follow him at instagram.com/samarayaart and twitter.com/Paintagram. Here’s a sampling of his equally unsettling non-King in Yellow visions: