IMMORTALIZED IN INK
Thomas Wolski is a contemporary artist whose media involves both the traditional and contemporary art-making skills of painting, illustration and photography. Thomas speaks in images, and has a remarkable visual memory. His talent lies in the ability to translate them with crisp precision and ease. What makes his pieces a work of art is the thought process behind them; his disconcerting yet good-humoured view of the world mixed with an inner desire to razzle-dazzle.
He grew up in Southport, Lancashire, on the edge of suburbia, where he was free to roam in the fields that had nurtured his imagination from early childhood. His world was a colourful one, full of stories and minute details to be observed in children’s book illustrations and the simplest of hand-drawn cartoons. All he needed was a roll of paper and a few basic tools to make magic happen.
Yet as an artist he prefers to work with black & white photography and uses black ink to show off the sharpness of his drawings. “I respond really well to clear crisp images because they set the mood of the picture; no matter if it’s a sunny or hazy day, you can still feel the heat, the dampness or the eeriness – they have a real atmosphere”.
In college Thomas’s interest in pursuing art as a professional career had wavered. Art classes meant drawing on inspiration from other artists which he felt didn’t foster his individual creativity. Even though he enjoyed studying art history, when it came to realising an art project, he relied purely on his own imagination to keep his work pure and not to solely base his work around that of the grand masters’.
His nostalgia towards pop culture, films and music videos, has magnified and has become one of his muses.
Memories of humble Christmases past that didn’t used to feel like an annual re-make of an illusory “America’s Next Top Xmas tree”, as Thomas puts it, have also become a strong nostalgic influence in his art-work. “The Christmas bulbs don’t need to match and the commercial Pokémon image of Santa ruins the ambience”, says Thomas, “it doesn’t all have to be perfect”. For someone who toils for 200 hours on a single large-scale drawing of a miniature world, all intertwined to perfection over 15 adjoining pages, this is a lot to admit.
His first public art project, each of the hybrid photo-paint montages sets a stage for a play. He paints the colourful characters or props onto the black & white image creating the scenario that pops up in his head – a laborious process that involves many carefully planned stages. There is an apparent simplicity to the final result which makes his work accessible to everyone.He leaves it up to the onlooker’s individual perception to decide if it’s humour, social criticism or nostalgia that they communicate. But whether you like them or not, you can’t walk past them without trying to make sense of that “je ne se quoi” feeling they evoke.
- Erika Elizabetta Mizun