Saturday, 28 February 2015

Richard McGuire’s ‘Here’

Richard McGuire’s ‘Here’ is the story of a corner of a room and of the past and future events that have occurred in the space the corner has 'occupied' over the course of millions of years.

‘Here’ was originally published in Raw* back in 1989 and was a short 8 page idea that when it came out was immediately recognized as being an important work that enabled complex layers of time to be reflected upon in a very condensed form.

Drawing is often seen as a meditation on time, usually because the time it takes in its construction, including the recording and translating of perceptions, is compacted into a simultaneity. I.e. that although a drawing will take time to do, all the marks and traces of actions that go into its making are seen by an observer immediately in one totality. This compaction has often been meditated upon. You can think about the marks that make up a drawing as frozen gestures, the traces of actions that have occurred can be seen as very like fossil footprints in the sand. However McGuire’s work allows us to think about composition and framing as another way to deal with time. Each frame can be read as an event, but when frames are inserted into other frames, events can ‘nest’ inside each other, a series of events seen at the same time, (the simultaneity of seeing) being brought together inside larger frames, so that past and present oscillate in the same space. This is reinforced by the comic book convention of frames, a convention that in Western comics encourages us to read time as moving from left to right, (if you read Japanese Manga it takes a while to get used to reading from right to left). As we look at each frame on the comic book page it suggests we are moving forward in time, (the left to right reading of the comic book), however inside each frame we see other frames popping backwards and forwards in time, and of course the image of the room remains constant, so that we become aware that although time is moving the space that is being meditated upon is fixed.

OK comics are selling a limited edition of a facsimile of the original 8 page ‘Here’ alongside the full-blown graphic novel that McGuire has now published. Although the full version is in colour and is hundreds of pages long, it believe it doesn't add anything to the initial idea. In my mind the original is better, but why not go and check them both out. There is a good review of McGuire’s new publication here

In my previous post on the work of Raymond Pettibon I pointed to the influence comic art has had on contemporary fine art drawing, but McGuire’s influence is a different one, one more to do with attitude and concept than style and appearance.

*Raw was a publication devoted to showcasing what was new and exciting in comics. For once the medium was being taken seriously as an art form in its own right. Raw was the first publication to serialise Art Spiegelman's 'Maus'. 

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