Hardware Store Primitives

These sandpaper drawings are what I call my “hardware store primitives.” They’re drawn on sandpaper, first in pencil and then finalized with ink and highlighted with chalk.  I wanted the drawings to be the simplest and most primitive form of expression, one that is related obliquely to cave paintings.

This technique is also a contemporary homage to the tradition of marble dust drawings popular in the 19th century, which used a similar “sandpaper” surface made with calcium carbonate. It’s also an homage to cave drawings. It was a challenge to get the pencil to stick on the sandpaper (it kept blowing off) and I thought about the challenges of trying to get homemade (or cavemade) charcoal to stick on to the rocks. Did they mix some blood with the charcoal to get it to adhere?

For the subjects of my drawings, I was thinking of the cave painters’ animal motifs and wanted to use one of New York City’s indigenous and prevalent creatures, the rat. I also wanted to tie in mythology; the rat is shown in Greek mythological stances, as Sisyphus, Atlas and Pasithea. You probably are familiar with Sisyphus and Atlas- but how about Pasithea? The personification of relaxation and meditation- my new favorite!

Here’s the Wikipedia on her:

n Greek mythology, Pasithea (Ancient Greek: Πασιθέα, “relaxation”), or Pasithee, was one of the Charites (Graces), and the personification of relaxation, meditation. The Charites are usually said to be the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, but Pasithea’s parentage is given (by the poet Nonnus) as Hera[1] and Dionysus.[2] She was married to Hypnos, the god of sleep.[3]