David Maxim, Double Tornados (2006), Oil Pastel and Graphite (34" x 21")
Although the colors of the tornado immediately capture the attention of the audience, one cannot help but notice the messy grid drawn into the picture with graphite. The grid appears to have been drawn on quickly while attempting, or intentionally ignoring, to keep the lines parallel or perpendicular to one another. It appears that the grid was added to the picture only after the tornado was drawn, as made evident by the faint lines across the tornado where the pencil scraped away the oil pastel. In doing so, Maxim introduces a thought provoking paradox into Double Tornados by pictorially suppressing an immensely powerful and seemingly uncontainable force. The regular, angular forms of the grid clash with the organic and random shapes of the tornado, just as the unpredictable forces of nature, manifested here by natural disaster, contend with human society.
The picture itself might simply be read as a slash of color and charcoal across a green tinged paper, yet Maxim is able to inform viewers of the subject by using simple, but varied, marks in order to mimic different objects and materials. For example, the funnel of the tornados is given volume and relief from one another when some of the pastel is wiped off on the top-right portion of the funnel. The diagonal marks where the pastel was wiped off also allude to the rotation and upward movement associated with tornados. Small, rough marks near the horizon and the bottom of the tornados represent debris, while the firm, horizontal line of the horizon suggest stable earth. It seems that the artist attempts to depict atmosphere by small gray dots dripped onto the area surrounding the tornados, but this application was ineffective as only small portions of this empty space are given ambience instead of the entire piece. Overall, Maxim’s Double Tornados does well to depict the violent nature of these storms while also introducing some interesting ideas about modern humanity’s relationship to the natural world.