Each sensuous letter is accompanied by erotic excerpts, carefully curated by the French illustrator, with a strong emphasis on female poets, including contributions from Sandra Cisneros, Yusef Komunyakaa, Stephanie Burt, Vanessa Kisuule, Warsan Shire, Kyle Dargan and Michael Faudet.
It comes after an initial project and exhibition by Malika in 2013, inspired by the Penguin books cover commission art directed by Paul Buckley. Now, seven years on, Malika has decided to gather the body of work into a limited-edition book, co-published with Counter-Print.
Malika's more-than-suggestive illustrations in her bold and minimal style that plays with light and shadow, are a celebration of joy, pleasure and sensuality. As Vātsyāyana once wrote and is quoted in the book: "So long as lips shall kiss, and eyes shall see, so long lives this, and this gives life to thee."
Is Malika happy with the result? "I always knew I wanted to do something with the letters but it took me seven years to find the magic formula," she tells Creative Boom. "The idea occurred when reading an erotic poem by Sandra Cisneros. Its rhythm was so beautiful, sexy and modern. It felt like the perfect match for my illustrations. This is when I decided to associate each letter with an erotic excerpt."
She continues: "The curation part of the book was the most exciting for me and made me realise that erotism was the most timeless and universal theme of alls. An excerpt from Shakespeare or Sappho can effortlessly live alongside a contemporary poet like Michael Faudet or Warsan Shire."
For those who'd love to know, the book was designed by Counter-Print and printed in Italy. It has been lavishly produced and comes within an embossed slipcase. The cover itself has been gold foiled and the book is end-blocked in matt black. For something extra special, there are a limited number of foiled prints available with the book for a combined price of £70.
Of course, we just have to know if Malika has a favourite letter (if it's not too cheeky to ask): "Nothing is too cheeky to ask the person who spent months turning positions into letters, "she says. "I would say I have two favourites: the O for its visual balance and sensuality and the V for its cheeky and surprising angle."