My special order of 36″ x 48″ Dura-Lar arrived at the RISD Store yesterday. As they rang me up at the counter, it was a little scary to see how large the sheets were, which to me is a sign that I’m headed in the right direction. There’s something about being afraid of your project that can be exhilarating and stimulating in a positive way.
I’m stubborn enough that if someone tells me I either can’t do it or that it’s excessively difficult, it just motivates me more. I have a very clear memory of my first studio class my freshman year at RISD: the professor told us that last semester he gave 3 A’s out of 40 students. All I could think at the time was “I’m going to be one of those A’s this semester.”
I’ve started an 18″ x 24″ study which will feature two layers of Dura-Lar with one figure on each sheet. This drawing is the first layer, depicting the figure in the distance. I’ve purposefully kept this drawing very dark and simple so that it will be visible underneath the second drawing which will be laid over it eventually.
I made a second visit to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston yesterday afternoon to take a second look at the Antonio Lopez Garcia exhibition. I’ve discovered that having the opportunity to revisit a show a second time allows you to notice aspects of the work that perhaps escaped you the first time through.
During this visit I found myself immersed in Lopez Garcia’s pencil drawings of run down interiors. Pencil is a common drawing medium, but which seems to produce unfortunate results in most circumstances. There are few who really know how to use pencil to their advantage in terms of drawing. Lopez Garcia has achieves a perfect balance between minute details and large planes and surfaces of space. His drawings command atmosphere and an uncanny depth through his mastery of articulation.
Antonio Lopez Garcia, “Backs”, 1964, oil on wood
I was transfixed by this painting of a pair of nudes. It’s impossible to see in this digital image, but the surface texture of the painting was gritty and coarse, in complete contradiction to the sensitivity and subtlety of the form of the figures.
An ink drawing from the Waiting Series has been published on the cover of Boston University Professor Robert Chodat’s book “Worldly Acts and Sentient Things” by Cornell University Press. Visit the Amazon page and the Cornell University Press page.
I have two exhibitions coming up in the fall that I’ll need to make work for. In August I’ll focus on creating 36″ x 48″ layered Dura-Lar drawings as well as some finished sculptures. The large scale Dura-Lar was very tough to track down, eventually I had to have it special ordered from the RISD Store.
The drawings will have 3 figures in each composition, and be suspended from the ceiling so that both sides of the drawing are visible. The idea is that the visibility of each figure will vary greatly depending on which side is being viewed. I’ll be able to experiment with the layers and having multiple figures before increasing the scale of the drawings even further.
A small scale layer test with two drawings.
I made a small study to test out a combination of plastilene and sand as a means of facilitating surface texture in these sculptures. To my surprise, the plastilene held up well when mixed with the sand, and provided the crumbly and gritty surface I was looking for. The next step will be to troubleshoot how this material will hold up on a larger scale sculpture.
I’ve been using sandpaper to create a textured surface in the drawings, so it seems to make perfect sense that sand would make an appearance in the texture of these sculptures.
I’m trying to articulate the rationale behind my choice to create these sculptures to be figures as ruins. In the drawings, I present the experience of isolation as being unseen, unknown, and lost in the group. Visually, this is captured by creating figures that appear as being transparent, ghost-like, ethereal, and atmospheric. In relation to sculpture, these are qualities which are not inherent in a three-dimensional format. So the question becomes how to create a sculpture which can still suggest these qualities. I see ruins as “sculptural ghosts”: they are the three-dimensional remnants of the ghosts of the past, and imply a sense of being lost in time through their deteriorated state.
Wander XII, In Progress
I’ve been slowly making my way through my new book, “The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss” by Claire Nouvian. The book contains stunning photographs of deep sea creatures, many of whom seem more bizarre and strange than anything a science fiction movie could ever conjure up.
This book is a far cry from the concepts and images of water in my sculpture and drawings; the only real common theme is the presence of water. Although, there are certainly some interesting thematic ideas that are similar. What intrigues me the most about the deep sea is that despite how advanced our technology has become, our knowledge and experience of the deep sea is miniscule compared to other parts of the planet. In terms of spacial depth, I can’t imagine there’s anywhere else on the Earth that can beat the deep sea. I like that the deep sea is mysterious, unseen, and unknown; qualities that I’m looking to visually achieve in my work right now.
The Dumbo Octopus
I’m transitioning to larger scale studies, this time around with a 18″ x 24″ sheet of acetate. This new scale is allowing for more options: I’m able to draw more with the side of the crayon, and I’m able to use lithographic rubbing ink which is terrific for laying down intense blacks in the water. Despite this expansion of techniques, I still wanted to get even larger. I still feel constricted at this scale, especially in terms of articulating the figure.
Wander XII, in progress
I read this article in the New York Times which discusses Mogaoku, a site in Dunhuang, China near the Gobi desert which has hundreds of rock-cut Buddhist grottoes. The site is filled with elaborate frescoes and hand modeled clay sculpture. I was struck by the images of the interior paintings, which command a fluidity, grace, and calligraphic gesture which are both simple and compelling. Overwhelmed by tourism, the site is deteriorating from carbon dioxide and humidity, making efforts to conserve the site very difficult. Holland Cotter’s description of his on site experience really captures what I can imagine to be a once in a lifetime experience. You can also view the New York Times slideshow of the site.