Prints & Multiples
Hand painted Sumi ink with screen print on Coventry rag 335gsm paper
148.6 x 85.1 Size (cm)
58.5 x 33.5 Size (in)In 1934, an edition of Raymond Roussel's epic non-narrative poem, New Impressions of Africa, was published with a series of illustrations. In Roussel's prose and poetry, one imagines de Chirico-esque vacancies populated by impossible machines and humans performing unmotivated actions. The illustrator was Henri Zo. Roussel never met Zo. Zo never read the poem; and anyway the instructions for drawings that Roussel sent to Zo, through a detective agency, had a tangential connection to his already opaque poem. Roussel sent Zo generic phrases such as, 'Nocturnal landscape. Very starry sky with a thin crescent moon. (no people.)' Zo would send him an adequate illustration. These illustrations have a beautiful blankness to them, probably due to the lack of narrative information given to the illustrator who functioned as a police sketch artist trying to reconstruct Roussel's brain from disembodied fragments of thought.
In an essay published after his death, Raymond Roussel revealed his writing process. His abstract prose was based on pre-existing puns, plays on words or synonyms. He allowed himself to become a machine that produced verbal dreamscapes after being fed their linguistic coordinates. Roussel, it turns out, like Zo, was doing the most he could with the information he could be sure of; the information that he saw as data. By placing his subjective impulses at the mercy of givens, Roussel created some of the most subjective literature of the modern era. He also invented the first mobile home and the first (and last) wall insulated by vacuum tubes. Roussel is a good example of the fact that true madness presents itself as logic.
In a series of drawings, Life On Other Planets, Weinstein took a selection of these Roussel/Zo illustrations as source material. He altered, stretched, edited and drew them using japanese sumi ink and pen on watercolor paper. Into each drawing, he inserted painted solar flares that fill the blankness and stillness of these drawings with illuminations, special effects; a glimpse of a double moon from another planet. By illuminating the arid environments of the drawings, Weinstein transforms the space of them from the illustrative to the pictorial. Also, Rousmechanical and part imaginary writing process parallels the act of printmaking in which the hand, mind and machine work together to make an object.
© Matthew Weinstein 2017