Sunday, March 24, 2013

Drawings IV

This is one of my favourite photos of Richard and me (our mom's in the background). It's at the opening for my first solo show of art -- a group of life drawings of people at work. It was held at Partisan Gallery ... I can't remember the date -- sometime in the 80s. Richard came down from Montreal. My mom was living in Toronto at that time, and I think my dad had moved there as well. The crowd was good even though the sort of work I was doing -- highly representational drawings without the aid of photos -- wasn't considered hip at the time, and still isn't considered so. The drawings themselves were of people at work ... again, an unhip subject-matter.

Richard was more affected by the modernist aesthetic I was. Actually, I was affected by it, too, but not as purely; I was heavily into cartoons as well (an interest starting in childhood), particularly political cartoons and what back then we called "underground comics" (that's graphic fiction to you, 21st Century kultur-kampfer). He'd had a show at Concordia, where he studied. His works were giant paintings: neo-expressionist self-portraits and animals. Come to think of it, I was strongly interested in neo-expressionism as well. But his work was very uniform in its aesthetic -- he'd put down lines in large bold strokes. I don't remember that he experimented much with different media when painting -- he stuck to acrylics, and a similar style. (Later, he became interested in sculpture and ended up doing a lot of line drawings -- I think by this point he just didn't want to buy paint.) He also during this university period did drawings in india ink, which were, looping back again, similar to his paintings. In effect, he was drawing rather than painting -- the paintings were drawing-like. Many painters have this tendency, and it's simply one way of solving one's visual subject-matter: one uses lines of colour rather than blocks of them. Lines always materialize in representational work, no matter how abstracted. But some artists use them as a primary visual element, and Richard and I both fell in that category. We were both -- as we had been when kids -- drawers.

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