This charcoal drawing uses light and shadow technique (Chiaroscuro) to portray the stairs at Einstein tower, built by Erich Mendelsohn at Potsdam, near Berlin, between 1919-1921. The tower is an observatory with six telescopes whose purpose is to prove or disprove Einstein's theory of relativity. The tower, one of Mendelsohn’s most important structures, combines functionality and expressivity, and is still active today.
The drawing focuses on the stairways that transport the light from top to bottom. They symbolize a gateway or a middle way- between reality and imagination, matter and spirit - this world and the world beyond. Rembrandt has a wonderful painting of a philosopher positioned at a staircase called Méditation du Philosophe, from 1632. It offers an obvious point of reference for Roman’s drawing. The painting is at the Louvre collection in Paris and can be used as an example for light and shadow technique (Chiaroscuro). The spreading of light and shadow gives the painting a dramatic character. It expresses the philosopher’s interior flame and the ideal of thought that leads upwards towards the heavenly light.
Rudolf Steiner, the father of Anthroposophy, described Rembrandt’s philosopher as: “purest expression of light and dark... All that you see here—the architecture and all the other features—merely provided the occasion for the real work of art, which lies in the distribution of light and dark."
This cinematic charcoal drawing is based on a study book on perspective from the time of Galileo. It is one of the first examples of the transition from linear perspective to three-dimensional perspective. Galilei used these exercises in perspective to imagine the moon as a pierced surface, unlike the perfected image of the moon that was prevalent during his times. He used light and shadow to understand the relation of the sun, the moon, and the earth, which helped him prove that Copernicus was right–our planet is not the center of the universe.
This exceptional charcoal drawing, which can still shock us, is based on a sculpture of the Roman god Pan, of the city of Herculaneum (near Pompeii) from 79 CE. Sculptures of sex and violence were common in the Roman world. In this case, Pan, the god of nature and fertility, is having sex with a goat. When the sculpture was exhibited at the British museum it was joined with a viewing warning. This did not change the long line of people at the entrance. The name of the work - Sha’atnez - relates to Satan-Ez (devil-god) and more generally to cloth made from a mixture of two kinds of material, which is prohibited in the bible. Such mixing might be related to Pegan rituals wherein the mixing of divine and animal was widespread.
This small drawing is based on Ernst Haeckel’s synthetic shapes. Haeckel was a German zoologist active in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who tried to fuse all organic shapes into one non-random, that is necessary form. This troubling connection between nature and science is motivated by the desire to find the perfect, absolute, or superior form. Haeckel promoted racial science and social Darwinism. But his idea that all natural forms can be integrated to create one perfect form still enchants artists and scientists today.
In 1994, a garden bunny made of ceramics was scanned from thousands of angles at the Stanford laboratories. The data can serve as a model to test various graphics algorithms. Hillel Roman’s charcoal drawing examines the constructed image making it beautiful and somewhat natural again. As in the rest of the works presented in this exhibition, the artist follows technology and science while reversing the trajectory of a heightened simulation of the world. The usual history that leads from linear perspective, to cubism, to the digital image is infused with hand-made crafted work in the remnants of burnt wood on paper.
This mid-size charcoal drawing is based on the control center as it appears in the British TV series The Prisoner. This avantgarde tv production from 1967 tells the story of a British Intelligence agent who resigned without explanation from service. He is then abducted and placed in an idyllic village wherein all his actions are monitored. The control center is a sort of technological panopticon and the village a predecessor of today's hyper controlled environments. The Prisoner developed a cult following for its striking visual imagery and critical-surreal ideas.