Even to me, yesterday's drawing sings a radical message. It conserves Western's Art's intrigue with perspective, yet creates a room-like environment inhabited by a form of many forms. It has little comfortable references to reality. This is pure three-dimensional abstraction, simultaneously conservative and radical. Viewing discomfort abounds! Is it good art? It is what it is: a test, a proving ground, research, and profoundly articulate. This drawing is filled with finesse of touch and of pencil marks. It exudes elegance in form-creation and in composition. Yet, it is disturbingly different; it is different than anything I have imagined prior to its existence. My role is not to judge, but to make, then move on to create some more.
This drawing is more "head-on" than I have been making recently. Even my last few paintings read more like landscapes, or room-scapes, then facades. This reminds me of Claude Monet's artistic development (see three examples below). Early in Monet's career he was very interested in the third-dimension of the landscape, as in "The Road from Chailly to Fontainebleau" (1864). By mid-creed Monet was making facade-like paintings, as in "Rouen Cathedral" (1882). Monet concluded his career making absolute facades, as in his many paintings of "Water Lilies" (1919).
I am thinking about facades versus 3D-scapes because I am trying to work through this inherent conflict in picture-making. Yesterday's drawing is more a facade than the drawings from the previous day. I mentioned Monet development, but the "Father of Modern Art", Paul Cezanne, instinctively understood painting as facade. Even his earliest work screams with "I am flat" (after Monet's work, see Paul Cezanne's "Orchard in Pontoise" from 1877, Cezanne died in 1906). To conclude, the flat plane forces an artist to deal with a picture's ultimate insistence on two-dimensional composition. I am working out this dichotomy within my artistic nature. I definitely have a problem to solve, given my propensity for manufacturing the third-dimension while scratching and feeling the surfaces of rendered forms.
This drawing took me nearly four hours to complete. It is filled with normalcy and abnormality. Nobody has a nose like the man's, but the breast of the woman looks familiar. And so it goes — I am testing the waters of abstraction versus traditional figuration. For me, this is becoming a forever problem. Besides my addressing this issue of abstract forms versus more naturally derivative forms, I would like to point out the complexity of this drawing's space. The drawing, after all, is on a two dimensional piece of paper. Wandering through its space is a deceit, driven by form, perspective, light and shadow, and line. In this drawing, and in the drawing reproduced in my previous blog post, I have used lines to create surface values which simultaneously drive and animate space. The easiest place to see this occur is on the top of the box on which the woman sits.
It is important to me that you look carefully at one minor element: the woman's left hand. I drew that over and over, till it felt right, at least five times.
I do not want, or need, to say much about yesterday's drawing. it surprised me! I feel a WOW! factor when I look at it. Besides the subject matter being "found", there is also the finding of so much more, i.e. forms invented, space invented, values subtly altered to create movement and light, and the use of line to move the viewer rhythmically and to stretch out the perspective. Wow! I am surprised and impressed.
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