The Aesthetics of Invention

Stephen Talasnik

Picked up a slim little volume, which accompanied a recent show at the Marlborough gallery here in New York, of drawings by one Stephen Talasnik. To me his work looks like drawings of impossible architectural projects, each laying out a particular expanse of the Tower of babel let’s say. Stylistically they might fall into the same category as recent works by Matthew Ritchie or Julie Mehretu. Thought I’d share some of it with you.

The book has nothing to say by way of introduction unfortunately so the following is from Talasnik’s own site:

Stephen Talasnik was born in Philadelphia, where he developed an interest in engineering nurtured by that city’s newly developing urban infrastructure of the late 50’s and early 60’s. Of particular appeal were bridges and highways in addition to the architecture of sport and recreation. He was also intrigued by NASA telecasts of the early space program as well as black and white documentary photos available in weekly periodicals such as Life and Look magazines. He was always attracted to the aesthetics of invention whether the mind wanderings of fantasy architecture, futuristic product design, or unrealized visions for transportation.


Automata 2006, graphite, 26 x 20 in.


Rococo Dream 2006, graphite, 26 x 20 in.


Talasnik’s images of visionary architectural typologies are potential constructions and latent destructions. Using a combination of traditional drawing techniques, frottage (rubbing from woodblocks the artist has cut), erasure, and abrasion, Talasnik’s surfaces are built up and torn down—violently attacked in one moment and gently coaxed into existence the next—creating a dense palimpsest of imagery drawn from such varied sources as: Asian and Baroque art, futurist architecture, black-and-white photography, the natural sciences and structural engineering. The resulting collage of fractured, skeletal forms is, as Talasnik states, “forever unfinished, but always complete.” -From Davidson Gallery.


Wind Tunnel 2005, graphite, 30 x 24 in.


Talasnik’s drawings are metaphysical constructions—visionary artifacts and structures inspired by imagined grand places and, more specifically, the intricate interstices of scaffolding around buildings. His process, though, is anything but ephemeral: “When it comes to the surface of the paper, anything goes.” He prefers heavyweight papers intended for watercolor or printmaking, because papers made for drawing cannot stand up to his strongly physical treatment of the surface. By erasing the graphite marks and abrading the paper with such tools as a power sander, an electric eraser, and steel-brush file cleaners—even wood-carving tools and distilled alcohol—Talasnik achieves a surface rich with the history of its making. -From Sculpture magazine.


Intuitive Gravity 2006, graphite, 26 x 20 in.


Dwelling 2006, graphite, 26 x 20 in.



Hope you enjoyed. If you did you might want to check out Talasnik’s sculpture as well.

For some more “Paper Architecture” see this previous post on the duo of Brodsky and Utkin.

05.28. filed under: art. !. 2