Rafael Araujo’s illustrations are bafflingly complex—so complex that you might assume the artist uses a computer to render the exacting angles and three-dimensional illusions. And true, if you were to recreate his intricate mathematical illustrations using software, it probably wouldn’t take you long at all. But the craziest part of all is that Araujo doesn’t use modern technology to create his intricately drawn Calculations series—unless, of course, you count a ruler and protractor.
The Venezuelan artist crafts his illustrations using same skills you and I learned in our 10th grade geometry class. Only instead of stashing those homework assignments deep into the locker of his brain, Araujo uses these concepts to create his da Vinci-esque drawings. In Araujo’s work, butterflies take flight amidst a web of lines and helixes, a shell is born from a conical spiral, and the mathematical complexity of nature begins to make sense.
He says perspective and angles have always come naturally to him. “When I was young I began drawing perspective almost out of the blue,” he recalls. “I loved three-dimensional drawings and liked to find out ways to locate dots in the space.” Before computer-assisted drawing, there were artists like M.C. Escher, who Araujo counts among his biggest influences. “When I first saw M.C. Escher, I was speechless,” he says. “His artwork was so akin to my geometrical taste.”