Robert Otto Epstein: Knitting Chart Drawings

February 28, 2013

'I'm an artist living and working in Maplewood, NJ. My current work consists of paintings and drawings on paper based on turn of the century French and German filet lace patterns and vintage knitting and crochet schematics. My primary interests are in modes of production or 'the machinery of making.' I like to consider the body at work in the vain of Gilles Deleuze's 'desiring machine'—as a kind of round-the-clock factory model where the assembly of 'being' and 'doing' and its creative wares are one in the same.



I'm intrigued by the sentimental and quaint qualities embedded in this imagery. I find that painstakingly rendering patterns in paint on paper subverts their original purpose from decorative and utilitarian to something that is purely formal and without function. The paintings become an admixture of the classical and the contemporary—a flattened and pixilated adaptation of imagery intended for the production of fiber arts and textiles.



I cull my source material from vintage knitting and crochet books. Sometimes I select patterns for kitschy animal pictures, and then other times I focus on more allegorical or historical tableaus. From there I create a grid on paper and begin to paint, line-by-line and square-by-square, each ‘pixel’ of the pattern. I always work from bottom to top and from left to right, making sure to follow the pattern precisely. I work very systematically, even obsessively, painting each sign and symbol, and paying particular attention to every marker on the 'map.' As such, my paintings are as much about the repetitive, mechanistic process that I perform as they are about the final product.' Robert Otto Epstein