Maker of Worlds
Von Angela Stief
Context dislocation: a zebra in a concert hall, a pigeon flying in a Baroque interior, a European family dressed in the fashion of the 1950s which is walking through an oriental architecture as if that were quite natural, a balloon that mutates into a chandelier, Thomas Draschan's ornamental and precisely composed delicate collages are set in fantasy worlds, in architectures like pagodas, mosques, spaces of Vienna art nouveau, and steep mountainous landscapes that transcend times and cultures, He levels out criteria, spatial contexts, temporal levels, and material differences, Draschan dissolves geographical and architectural contexts into absurd spatial combinations reminiscent of Giorgio de Chirico and pittura metafisica, He composes narratives and conducts pieces: relations between visual elements, figures, and spaces do not emerge by way of narrative consistency, instead he plays emotional binarisms against one another in aesthetic balance acts and eclectic tendrilled formations: terror and joy, hate and love.
Existential petrifications are dissolved by the maker of Fare Mondi -as the current publicly displayed collage in the Kunsthalle showcase is called -with nonchalance and flirtation. His transformative art makes superlatives collide. It oscillates between the micro and the macro, seems universalistie, uses mysticism and images from space and nature, with waterfalls, lightening, and explosions.
The lavish use of material is the essence of Thomas Draschan's his waste knows no limits, it is like sleeping, eating, and love, his wastefulness is an impulse that cannot be effaced. For his subjects, the artist, who lives in Berlin and Vienna, digs in banal everyday material like old magazines, journals, and postcards that he finds during his manic search for motifs through second hand stores and flea markets. The complete artwork assimilates the heterogeneous material, which is scanned at high resolution and assembled on the computer. The various patterns and pixel structures enrich the surfaces as geometrically abstract elements: photographs hardly have patterns, old postcards from the US look in their pixels and color much different than those from Europe.
The work of the Austrian artist, who studied with Peter Kubelka in Frankfurt, is based on an engagement with film positions like the plot purism of Dziga Vertov and the found footage specialist Bruce Con- nor. Based on geometric cut found footage works like Metropolen des Leichtsinns (Metropoles of Flippancy), Draschan, using two-dimensional collages and videos like Freude (Joy), which is made of ca. 12 images per second, developed the current video work Continental Divide. Here, Draschan follows a new aesthetic principle: the video is much slower, the cut as accelerating too! for the condensation of visual information gives way to a sensual construction: not entire images or series of images, but only fragments change the frames successively. Only few image componenents move, standstill and transformation go hand in hand. Butterflies and elephants cross the image, the color of the sky changes from grey to blue to a threatening pink. Images within the image surface, the landscapes and rock formations become the frame of portraits, ancient gates frame a soccer player and a woman stripping. The temporary fragmentation of the earlier videos in the rapid series of cuts is replaced by a collage that successively varies motifs, foreground and background in the moving image. The principle behind the work is al ready alluded to in the tide, the visual elements shift like continental plates, search out their position in the composition, drift apart, come together again, and interarticulate.
Thomas Draschan's art is a land of milk and honey and an artificial paradise of secret wish-fulfilment. It seems as if we were knocking on the gate of the unconscious and visualizing in a direct way drives, fears, longings, and childhood dreams. His over-the-top aesthetic borrows from the literature of decadence like Gustave Flaubert's The Temptation of St. Anthony and Joris-Karl Huysman's Á rebours. In cultivating escapist tendencies and symbolic condensation, the inside and outside world fuse into phantasmagorias that play in a timeless no-man's land. What remains is the moment: movements like the ball of a juggler being thrown are frozen in the moment, and the snowball that a boy throws at a parrot, stands still in the air.
© Angela Steif, Eikon, Heft 69, 2010