When you first come across the vintage, dark and sultry artworks of Dutch artist Max Zorn you assume they are paintings, created using pastels, watercolours or perhaps oils in sepia hues. Instead, he adopts a most unusual technique by cutting and pasting pieces of brown masking tape, which he then sticks as layers to thin acrylic glass sheets.
Using LED light behind the glass as a guide, he can see how his work is progressing. Talking about his process, he said: "The more layers of tape I add, the darker the shades on the artwork become. The different shades of brown allow me to shape out my scenes and portraits. I use an ordinary scalpel or X-Acto knife to cut and shape the layers of tape. The last thing I need is a lit window."
He didn't always use such large canvases of glass. When he first came up with the idea, he would hang small versions from street lamps – adding a new dimension to street art: "There’s a lot of great street art by day, but it disappears after dark. I wanted to come up with urban art that uses nighttime as a setting, and there was nothing more inviting than the street lamps in Amsterdam. In the beginning I used packing tape to fill in larger sections of my marker drawings. Once I hung them on street lamps, the light’s effect opened up new ideas with ditching markers and just using tape."
There's a beautiful nostalgic theme throughout Max's work: elements of classic America in the 1920s-50s and inspirations from Hopper, no less. You can almost smell the cigarette smoke and whiskey, and expect Don Draper to appear at any moment.
If you want to see Max in action, watch the video below. In the meantime, check out more of his work at www.maxzorn.com.
All images courtesy of Max Zorn