Eugene Andolsek was an American stenographer, who, to escape the humdrum existence of his daily life, created dazzling, complex drawings in his spare time whilst in a trance-like state. Untrained as an artist and working from a kitchen table in a house he shared with his troubled, ailing mother, Andolsek worked on simple graph paper with nothing more than a straight edge, a pair of compasses and coloured inks which he mixed himself, to wild effect.
Unhappy and disillusioned with his job for Rock Island Railroad, starting in the 1950s Andolsek would unwind after work by drawing complicated patterns in black ink, then colouring in the resulting shapes. The release was cathartic and pretty soon he was getting lost in the intricacies of his work and the geometric worlds he created, drawing and colouring for hours on end in a trance. He didn’t consider what he was making as ‘art’ and once each image was finished he would stash it away in a drawer or cupboard. Like many other Outsider artists, he was driven by an inner urge to draw, and it was the act itself rather than the finished work that compelled him to create. It was only in later life when failing health and poor eyesight forced him to seek help that a careworker saw his drawings and realised Andolsek’s was a unique, unknown talent.
At first glance nowadays these images appear to be computer generated, and nothing particularly out-of-the-ordinary, but the fact that they were made by one man’s hand with simple tools up to 60 years ago only makes them all the more incredible. As with so many images shown on F O V, click on the thumbnails to see them in better detail and appreciate the craft and vision of this strange, gifted artist, who passed away in 2008.
All images © Estate of Eugene Andolsek/American Primitive Gallery