Art is a pure form of expression as it reflects the artist on whatever medium they use to represent their thoughts. It involves mixing in terms of philosophies or materialism or the collaboration of different ideas. Being open to interpretation in a creative field, which is widely varied, and lets the artist and observer create their worlds. A symphonic mixture of art forms and styles is distinguishable in the work of American artist Benjamin Sack, who uses pen and paper to build intricate cityscapes. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011. Amongst his other achievements, he was the graphics winner in the International Arts Festival sponsored by the Museum of Russian art.

“Architecture is not based on concrete and steel, and the elements of the soil. It’s based on wonder.” This quote by Daniel Libeskind breaks down a variety of subtle thought processes present in the world of architecture. Sack’s work is similar to this philosophy, as he explores architecture as a flexible medium to express the unique space between realism and abstraction. Tall towers and low-rise buildings merged to form familiar artworks and out of the world at the same time. This form of abstraction of cityscapes is a part of the new brand of abstract urbanism introducing a provocative perspective to the existing urban context and the associated relations to the people who inhabit those spaces.

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Hieroglyph by Benjamin Sack_©Benjamin Sack

Benjamin Sack takes inspiration from cartography, art history, and classical music and a witty amalgamation of all these interests is visible in his works. His works also represent elements of the human form, which add the human element to his otherwise abstract urbanism projects. He projects a unique ‘big picture’ where the interpretation and the observer’s ability to create meaning is a flux. A city is visualized by its specific zoning or the type of activity taking place concerning the various spaces. Benjamin Sack’s work resembles a slight similarity to the ancient civilizations where all the spaces were highly distinguishable and formed specific layers. A set of monotonous buildings merge into form datums or asymmetrical shapes arranged in a complex array of ideas. A city looked through the lens of a painter, is viewed as a space balanced out in all aspects, like the different strokes and colors of the paintbrush. He harnesses a range of geometries to construct the illustrations having a high level of detail and further helps the intimacy of the work.

Place and Scale

The famous American artist, Ben Shahn once said – “To abstract is to draw out the essence of the matter. To abstract in art is to separate certain fundamentals from irrelevant material which surrounds them.” An abstraction is an art form that stimulates the mind and engulfs the viewer in their perception of the associated art. Artist Benjamin Sack calls himself “composer of worlds” given to his ability to create intangible visuals and with intimate detail to every element of the piece. He makes use of a rhythmic arrangement of soft curves to harsh angular bends which give a good picture of the type of space and its scale.

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SAMSARA by Benjamin Sack_©Benjamin Sack

Contrast

Almost all of the artworks have clearly defined depth and contrasting features placed next to each other. This not only gives the piece a sense of scale but at the same time helps identify the various elements distinctly. Even the shadows give a sense of direction and depth. This symphony of blacks and whites presents a certain balance to the composition. Contrast is represented in one of the following ways – shadows, heights, crosshatches, and highlights. 

Cartography and Human Form

The maze-like urban maps draw their references from musical compositions and different symbols observed in cosmology. Organized chaos is what Benjamin Sack’s art can be described as. One of his artwork called “Astrum” has an array of star-shaped buildings and pathways which meet up with rows of houses spiraling out from clusters of skyscrapers. All his work begins with an origin and a set of guidelines, which becomes the general concept and the rest of it is developed intuitively. His famous work – Library of Babel is drawn on a globe surface that measures 16 inches in diameter. 

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Picture Astrum by Benjamin Sack_©Benjamin Sack
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Library of Babel by Benjamin Sack_©Benjamin Sack

Process

Artist Benjamin Sack is quite vocal about his methods. He begins his work with a broad and simple demarcation in pencil and the rest of the lines and spaces filled in with a pen. His work begins with taking a particular landmark or prominent building as the origin. He often speaks up about his intricate detailing. He often says “Art becomes a way and means of expressing the infinite, playing with perspective and exploring a range of histories, cultures, and places.”

This type of philosophy is newly developed and often less known. But it’s a new concept that can be utilized in the case of urban tissue development and overall adds to the fresh perspective in terms of architecture and urban planning.

Author

Currently pursuing bachelor's in urban planning, with a keen interest in art and design. His works have a sense of fantasy and practicality and he is obsessed with the word ‘Why.’ He enjoys learning complicated concepts and finds their application in life.

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