Archive for the ‘Tone Paper’ 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 Kraftick Liquefaction Plant

March 3, 2018
Coal Liquefaction Plant with cyclopean Landscape, drawing by Torsten Slama

The Kraftick Liquefaction Plant, 36 x 50 cm, pencil, colored pencil on tone paper

“When Germany still strived for complete autonomy and independence of Western (and Eastern…ed.) influences, coal hydration technology was one of her attempts to realise complete energy independence. Had the hydration plants not been completely eradicated by the end of World War II, their gasoline output would have served Germany’s entire private car fleet well into the 1960’s. ”  National Empowerment through Petrolum (NETP)

Apart from all its pertinence to energy empowerment stratagems, this drawing should be judged on its artistic merits and technical peculiarities. Mixed media technique on tone paper makes for interesting depth effects. The pervading pink motor oil atmosphere is sometimes fought back, at times heightened. Some of the liquefaction towers are aslant. The geological rock formation on which the plant rests seems unstable. Even the thick concrete platform on which all rests cannot prevent warping. Yet maybe the warping is only in the eyes and the hands of the draftsperson. Or perceived aslantness could be an optical illusion due to the diagonal dynamics of the rock-layered landscape in the background, which works against the perpendicularness of the liquefaction towers.

In a special effort to facilitate appreciation of technique, two details are included:

Kraftick Liquefaction Plant (by Torsten Slama), Detail   Detail of Kraftick Liquefaction Plant (by Torsten Slama)
Future © of this motor oil colorized drawing by Torsten Slama,the Energy Independence Society, and the NEPT yet undisclosed

The Very Potent Hair-Tonic

May 17, 2017
Drawing after Bruno Schulz,

Das sehr wirkungsvolle Haarelixier (A4, 2015)

(What follows is perhaps somewhat rambling while striving to be an encompassing description of what is already there, yet undescribed, and maybe even better left alone and unmolested by words and hearsay-facts. Uncovered, named, listed, documented sources often form a thicket under which lies buried the depth of original conception, and the factual ambiguity of the term “original”. A term which to discuss is not the purpose of the following word-thicket.)

This drawing was made to serve as a decorative side-piece for a show in a special sort of gallery, showcasing original editions of books by Bruno Schulz. The drawing’s author (the “artist”), limited in his choices by the restrictions describing his own realm of inclinations, would not have chosen this author to draw inspiration from, yet found in himself a strong urge to do “something different” (something different, of course, from what he would naturally do). So it was an appealing idea to do something according to somebody else’s wishes. So it had to be a sort of illustration. It was not to be a paraphrase of Bruno Schulz’s own, often somewhat fetish-centric drawings. It is an illustration of a detail in the short story, “The Book”, an ad for a hair tonic mentioned therein. Some pictorial inspiration was drawn from one of this drawing’s author’s favourite oil paintings, “Mourning Picture”, by Edwin Romanzo Elmer. Since the drawing’s author does not get around too much, he has never seen that painting in the original. He first came across it in a book about “Naive Kunst”. For some reason, this painting was classified as that, among numerous Yugoslavian examples, some French, and a notable German entry, Friedrich Gerlach. It was only a black and white reproduction, not particularly crisp, but the cracks in the thickly-painted clouds were still intriguingly visible.

A nom de plume was chosen for this drawing which refers to Edgar Allan Poe. So the original accent is nicely rounded off by the American influence in the form of two late 19th century American sources augmenting or instrumentalizing one Polish-Jewish, 1937 modernist, original inspiration. What this means is that it tells you something about the drawing’s author’s mindset. The artist-illustrator would also maintain that there is a certain touch of Will Elder noticeable in certain details. Which then would make for a third, second half of the 20th century, modern-popular, as opposed to modernist, American influence. The above-mentioned pen name was “Hans Pfaall” (see signature in lower left corner), lending an additional phallic touch to the drawing, already well endowed with phallic forms (eight, or nine, depending on the viewer’s susceptibility to phallic forms). A touch of quaintness is the choice of pink tone-paper, in reminiscence to a certain cheap stock of recycled writing paper, not widely available anymore. The drawing originally also featured a cat (taken from the above-mentioned mourning-painting) with very long hair, which was then erased and replaced by a multitude of overgrown house flies (Musca domestica, of the suborder Cyclorrhapha). To complete the list of references, and, in the process, to add one German influence (an addition of questionable historical and moral sensitivity perhaps), the self portrait of the painter of the Mourning Picture, sitting in a lawn chair and reading a newspaper, originally moustached, wearing a bowler hat, had his head replaced with that of a dog-creature which is a rather faithful copy of a drawing by the German author Wolfdietrich Schnurre, who illustrated his own books. This dog face, bearing the caption “Arrogant, aber von Adel”, was featured in his 1965 novel “Die Aufzeichnungen des Pudels Ali”.

The drawing was never used for its intended purpose, it was not shown, for it was too attention-drawing. So it was sent back to the draftsperson (the drawing’s author). Drawing and explanatory note © 2021 by Torsten Slama and the International Balloonist’s Society for the Applied Arts