Ray Troll is a genre artist who specializes in fish and prehisotric animals. While “Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway,” he ran across the art works (and illustrations) of Ernest Untermann. I asked Ray to respond to a couple of questions:
What kind of thoughts went through your mind when you were channeling Untermann?
As an artist with a lifelong passion for all things prehistoric, Untermann really speaks to me. It was kind of eery to find a kindred spirit who holed up in the desert town of Vernal and began painting the wonders of the past. So yeah, in a way, I felt a little ‘possessed’ when I was able to see a whole treasure trove of his art.
How would you describe his work?
At first glance, one thinks of a naive old guy doing quaint Sunday afternoon sort of painting as a kind of hobby, but then you begin to see that there’s real sophistication about his work. It’s deep and soulful and very playful. He makes his dinosaurs dance and the landscapes come alive. The guy could paint. His palette is bright and well conceived and his compositions are well conceived. You can tell he knows his art history and is painting in the manner of the impressionists. He reminds me of Henri Rouseau and Van Gogh: two artists who followed their passions outside the main currents of the art world.
What impresses you most about his style?
I love his color saturated palette and his somewhat funky looking creatures. You can tell the man spent a lot of time thinking about the history of the planet.
Any general thoughts about Untermann’s life?
When you start digging into his past, you begin to realize he truly was an extraordinary individual. It seems so poetic that this old communist revolutionary scientist/artist guy holed up in Vernal Utah and began to paint these incredible canvases . . . yet so few know about him. I’m still awaiting the definitive coffee table book of his work!
Has witnessing art had any impact on your work?
Yes, his sensibility has crept into my own work over the years.
Ray Troll’s website: www.trollart.com