Posts Tagged ‘Railway Art’

The Jansenist Engine

December 30, 2017

This reproduction perhaps does not do full justice to the original drawing, which has a rather unusual tonality, based on the blending of so many different brands, types, and colors of the colored pencil variety, all superimposed on an already well-finished pencil drawing with rather profound dynamics in the darkness-lightness range. Thus, the result is very much like a colorized black and white drawing, giving maybe the impression of a very early experiment in colour reproduction. The thematic dedication is referring to a Catholic theologian movement which enjoyed its phase of greatest vivacity from ca. 1660 to 1700 AD. Even though the movement played itself out predominantly in France, it was based on the teachings of a Danish theologian, emphasizing, in typical Nordic fashion, original sin and human depravity. The ?-voiced Commentator “ex”plains: this engine is a very impervious juggernaut, clad in different metallic alloys, being, say, indiscernible to radar, impenetrable by all sorts of electromagnetic radiation, shielded towards the degrading effects of human depravity and all varieties of human frailty. Any kind of believe in a superior being is something like a mental armour, shielding one from the hopelessness of mortality – the machine is a materialization of the urgent desire to overcome death. People often choose suicide to overcome death. They resent their mortal bodies. They would like to have their unique minds stored in metal cylinders — so, in a very roundabout fashion (or in a very allegorical fashion, or maybe in a very freely associative fashion), this drawing could also be called “The Whisperer in Darkness”.

The engine depicted here thus might be the metallic encasing for a human soul, moving through an archetypal, pagan, or, perhaps, Stygian highland (the Gaelic haven to the Teutonic type, disappointed with their own version of  a heathenist anti-western world), along some loch, or firth, or estuary, a landscape which might have formed the background to the most impressive feats of early Catholic Christianization, or Westernization.

*On a different and technically more feasible note, the metal cylinder integrated and made ambulatory in the Jansenist engine could also serve as a container for dead bodies (perhaps forever harbouring their souls, even after death), similar to the completely hermetic wood, metal, and wax coffin prescribed for the burial rites in Hans Henny Jahnn’s Church of Ugrino. As Jahnn, author of the deeply hermetic and religious novella “Das Holzschiff”, was himself buried in such a coffin (to prevent his holy body from rotting) it also becomes clear that the Jansenist link was solely associative, because the Jahnnist motif was still hidden in the background. Both spiritual positions describe that which was not embraced by the Catholic Church. Future © of this nostalgia-colorized drawing by Torsten Slama and the Society of Clovis yet undisclosed

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The Engine of Confidence

June 6, 2017
Drawing after the New Zealand railway painter W.W.

The Confident Engine (after W.W. “Bill” Stewart). pencil, coloured pencil, acrylics, 40×29.7cm

This drawing is based on a painting by the late New Zealand railway painter W.W. Stewart. The New Zealand railway station  and the engine was transplanted into a landscape of possibly Triassic character and the people decorating the scenery were eliminated. More specific information about the engine and the railway line could be obtained by a knowledgeable New Zealand railway buff. This artist, in full possession of his artistic prerogative to be weak-suited in terms of research, failed to do so. The copycat artist, having confidence issues, wants to strengthen the impact or poignancy of his drawing by adding the following impromptu piece of poetry (please observe the judicially placed punctuation; a mark of poetry):

Go, Engine of Confidence,
Go your way.
Unencumbered by self-doubt
Say it loud!
You have no capacity for self-doubt.

You are long in the tooth,
wide in the hip
You go on every trip
With confidence.

Engineered to do your best
Not concerned with all the rest
Your path might be crooked
Perspective unsound
Your wheels go round and round
Until you stop.

You are the horse of steel,
A projectile
In fashionable livery
That is your way
Oh could I be
Like you.  Atmospheric rendering © 2021 by Torsten Slama and the International Steam Traction Board