Archive for the ‘Edwardian’ Category

The Carl Grossberg (The Rift)

April 4, 2018
The Carl Grossberg and rocky landscape with Grossberg motif (by Torsten Slama)

The Carl Grossberg, 48 x 36,5 cm, mixed media on yellow tone paper

A detailed, if slightly crammed drawing with the theme of what our world would and could have looked like if energy independence, chemical independence, transportation independence and true man-nature metabolism had been the goal of industrialization. The drawing could also be an illustration to a treatise on “The Rift” (in the universal metabolism of nature), as described by Karl Marx. Not that the artist is deeply informed on the subject. In fact, any assumption of true literacy in any genre is categorically refuted (in accordance with the law of humbleness and common sense). Embedded in the rocky landscape background are several stylized coal liquefaction plants or chemical factories, tubes and pipelines, and one motif from a painting by Carl Grossberg (Fabriklandschaft im Schnee, 1923). Of course there is no snow here, as in fact the yellow color of the cardboard on which the scene was drawn evokes impressions of a slightly murky,  warm climate (perhaps of the inner earth) with sunlight filtering through a crack in the rocky ceiling, further muted by an emission-saturated atmosphere.  The drawing consists of several layers of pencil, colored pencil, washes of acrylics and different reflective and metallic pigments on a base of human spittle (which are in fact all but invisible.  Note that the “inner earth / Hollow Earth” theme has all sorts of connotations, historical science fiction ones as well as the psychoanalytical/gynacocratic/chthonic idea of earth as a womb. It seems in any case appropriate to annex a quote by Bernard Herrmann, wherein he describes his ideas about scoring the Filme “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (1959), since that film features landscapes not unlike the one depicted above: “I decided to evoke the mood and feeling of inner Earth by using only instruments played in low registers. Eliminating all strings, I utilized an orchestra of woodwinds and brass, with a large percussion section and many harps. But the truly unique feature of this score is the inclusion of five organs, one large Cathedral and four electronic. These organs were used in many adroit ways to suggest ascent and descent, as well as the mystery of Atlantis.” Drawing and words (except for italicized words by Bernard Herrmann) by Torsten Slama>

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The Liverpool

August 11, 2017

The Liverpool (after Cuthbert Hamilton Ellis)
Pencil, Coloured Pencil, 40×29.7cm

This drawing’s slogan:  “The good old times weren’t good, just old”.  Someone said that and it is not at all clear what they meant. It seems to be something you say when you want to be philosophical, maybe nearing the end of your own time. The steam locomotive stands for old values, which are not good, just old. In truth most friends of steam believe yes, the values are good, not old. The steam engine also is something which enthusiasts describe as an object evoking ecstatic feelings of awe when first beheld. It hisses, has pressure, is a promise of good and functional sexuality. The image of the steam engine says more in the realm of culture, symbolism, and pictorialism then in terms of the actual object depicted. It says something about the owner or the creator of the image. Or rather, it used to say something. Today all is possible, or nothing. Please note the unpainted or stripped totem pole which does look slightly cock-eyed, a phallic symbol introducing the element of anachronism and dislocation. The flying object is perceived by some as a pill of  the capsule type, it is rather an oblong paraphrase of something spherical, a type of artistic quote. UFO enthusiasts know the artist referenced. Mostly everybody else also. An anagram: GREATER MIENT.  The creator of the totem in the foreground is an anonymous North American Indian. Or rather, this totem is actually a faux totem, as it has different parts from different totems, rearranged, and an atypical base construction. It is possibly hollow and made from acrylics. The creator (engineer) of the Engine is unknown to the author of this drawing, but surely known to the creator of the original painting this drawing pays homage to. That painter is Cuthbert Hamilton Ellis, who usually knew a lot about the engines he painted, as he was seeing his paintings really as substitutes for colour photographs in his learned books specializing on Edwardian railway lore.
Rendering © 2021 by Torsten Slama and the International Steam Traction Board “The good old times were not good, just old”