I’m very pleased to christen the good ship Ink-Slingers blog with recent (2017) work by the great Ralph Bakshi. Ralph is most well-known for his ground-breaking work in the animation field, but it’s his current work that I want to focus on in this blog entry. To call Ralph an ink-slinger is a bit narrow. Yes, he incorporates incredible movement of the ink into his work, as can be seen in the detail image below.
Most importantly, Ralph is interested in the process of image-making, and allows that process to show through in his recent works. So while you have these boldly drawn and constructed figures and characters, you also have under-drawing and over-drawing, acting as a sort of armature for the figures. That solidity is a by-product of the process, which helps to create depth in and out of the picture plane, not just across it.
Here’s the real skinny: Ralph Bakshi knows how to draw, but what he’s incorporating into these works is the felt part of the process. Trust the process and the rest follows. Those lines take on a life of their own. White-out is wielded in a sculptural sort of way, cutting into and atop drawn areas. Pencil lines, paint strokes, marker and brush lines/edges, and stains all become part of the visual language that constructs these images.
In the end, Ralph is cartooning in the purest way he knows how. We’ve talked about influences and references, and folks will see what they see in the work. What I see is a guy who is pushing the material around like it’s a pulsating living thing, slinging all kinds of material around, including ink.
In this incredible and moody piece, filled with seemingly masked figures, Ralph create remarkable depth and richness in both the figures and the space. The viewer doesn’t see individual facial features, but expression comes forward in spades. Washes of color layered with pencil, ink, acrylics, and White-out create a narrative for each viewer to discern. But it’s that material use which is both captivating and magical, as the seeming labor behind the piece disappears. Brilliance.