The Space Art of Detlev van Ravenswaay
There are several talented painters of the Space art genre in Europe. Detlev, who hails from Germany, came to my attention during an auction at Superior in 2001. I saw the original work of "One Earth and Fifty Stars" as a lot during that auction. The piece really captured my attention as the composition was one of my favorites. Although I did not post the high bid on the original artwork, I was able to procure this study directly from Detlev two years ago.
I have described "One Earth and Fifty Stars" in a previous section of this site entitled "Flag on the Moon." A more detailed description of the work and the artist's feelings have been written in that chapter. I encourage you to scroll down and read it.
The other factor in my enjoyment of Detlev's work is his eclectic choice of subject matter such as the work shown below.
In "Ancient Observatory," Detlev has depicted early man's rudimentary attempt at understanding the Universe. His choice of technique in this piece was working "wet in wet" which mingles colors together to form a smoky atmosphere that mimics the shadowy existence of early man. As the tribe huddles under the rock close to the fire, a lone observer draws a circle in the sand as a representation of the full Moon rising in the sky.
You can see the difference in technique between this fast sketch versus the more formal work shown above in "One Earth and Fifty Stars."
Detlev has documented past historic events in Space and his views are world oriented. In "April 12th, 1961 - I Feel Good," he paints Yuri Gagarin in Vostok One on Man's first voyage into outer space. Detlev once told me that he was trying to capture the loneliness of space by showing the small capsule against the vast background of Earth and sky.
With an eye toward the future, the artist paints what Mars may look like as Man sees it from the surface of it's moon, Phobos.
In a more formal portrait, Detlev explores the possible views that Mars might produce for future. His idea was to show a dramatic view in the Valles Marineris. The composition draws one's eye from the bright sunlight and then follows the explorer's line of sight to the other members of the expedition far down into the darkness of the valley below. The lights on the ends of their staffs the only thing visible to us.
As we end this part of the retrospective, I wanted to include one of my favorite pieces of van Ravenswaay's work and it is titled, "Marsonaut in Orbit - EVA." Detlev has chosen a close up view of an astronaut during an EVA while in Martian orbit. Although just a study, it shows the weathered face of a veteran astronaut with the planet Mars reflected in his visor. It is truly one of the most personal pieces I have seen in the genre.
In Part Two, the retrospective will discuss some further works that demonstrates Detlev's versatility and in what new directions he is heading.