For fifty years Eugene Andolsek had a secret life creating drawings with vibrant colors and linear complexity in his free time. Working at his kitchen table on graph paper with compass and straight edge he laid out black lines and geometries filling in spaces with colored inks mixed with eye droppers to achieve dazzling compositions. The pictures have elaborate layered patterns that can be kaleidoscopic with the radiance of stained glass and the complexity of oriental carpets and molecular structures.
Surprisingly the pictures were never displayed on his walls nor exhibited. Once completed the pictures held no interest for Eugene and were put in the closet or a trunk. In fact Eugene did not think of himself as an artist nor see any value in what he created beyond the desire to draw them each evening. His drawings gave him a means to cope with his insecurities and dislike for his job as a stenographer for the Rock Island Railroad. Concentrating on the intricacies of each drawing would release him from worries and make his humble surroundings disappear as he withdrew into his self made world of dazzling colors and the space he created on graph paper.
Eugene Andolsek began to make pictures in 1953 after moving from working as a stenographer at the State Department to a job for the Railroad. His life was complicated by his mother coming to live with him, fleeing an abusive husband. Eugene would become her caretaker through years of illness. After retirement and the passing of his mother he continued to draw until failing health and eyesight led him to seek help. It was only after a caregiver at a retirement home saw his art work and recognized their uniqueness that they were brought to the attention of the director of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. The perfect timing was Brooke Davis Anderson’s trip there and on seeing the drawings deciding to include them in a planned show, Obsessive Drawing at the American Folk Art Museum.
The reception to the first showing of Eugene’s art proved to be excitement and recognition of an art world discovery. In Eugene Andolsek’s creation of his pictures he always tried to make each picture singular. What Eugene humbly suggested might make colorful place mats are works of art with remarkable complexity that continue to amaze viewers.
A documentary film is in production on Eugene Andolsek’s life and art.