With meticulous determination and a steady hand, artist Ben Sack picks up a black 0.05 Staedtler pigment liner pen and begins to draw the dense, intricate details of fictional cityscapes: buildings, roads, rivers and bridges. He draws until the ink runs out and picks up another pen. And another. And another. Sapping the ink from dozens of writing utensils until several months later a canvas is complete. His most recent piece, a vast circular drawing titled A Single Note (top), has a 12.5 foot circumference. It staggers the mind.
The architecture found in Sack’s artwork spans centuries, from gothic cathedrals to towering skyscrapers, underpinned by patterns of urban sprawl reminiscent of European cities with a healthy dose of science fiction. If you look carefully you might even recognize a familiar landmark here and there. He shares as his influence some thoughts on “western antiquity”:
Its this sort of image that I think most people, if not all of society have of western antiquity; stainless marble facades, long triumphal avenues, monuments to glory. In actuality, the cities of the past were far from idealistic by today’s standards. Yes there was marble, lots of marble, and monuments galore, however these urban centers were huddled together and unless you were considerably wealthy, life in dreamy antiquity was often a heroic struggle. Though the societies of antiquity were bloody, dirty and corrupt the idea of antiquity has come to represent some resounding ideals in present society; democracy, justice, law and order, balance, symmetry. These ideals are now the foundation stones of our own civilization, a civilization that some distant future will perhaps honor as antiquity.
Sack graduated from the Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011 and has since had work numerous solo a group exhibitions, most recently at Ghostprint Gallery. And just this week he returned from a circumnavigation of the globe as part of a residence aboard the m/s Amsterdam. You can see more of his work on his website, and over on Tumblr. Prints are available here. (via Waxy.org, Laughing Squid)
Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member today and support independent arts publishing for as little as $5 per month. You'll connect with a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art, read articles and newsletters ad-free, sustain our interview series, get discounts and early access to our limited-edition print releases, and much more. Join now!