Sunday, 11 October 2015

Paul Neagu: Palpable Sculpture

The Paul Neagu: Palpable Sculpture show which is on at the Henry Moore Centre includes a wonderful presentation of his drawings. He is a great example of a sculptor who thinks through drawing. Another example is Carl Plackman, both artists drew detailed images of possibilities before actually making objects. Neagu is a useful artist to look at if you are thinking about ways to divide up the human form. He chops it into slices, makes it appear to be made up of little boxes and constructs what could be called body architecture. Sections of the body appear extruded, or made of scaffolding. He also draws interiors, objects not unlike some sort of old scientific implements and basic forms like stars and cubes. He is obviously searching round for forms that fit and evolve into new sculptural formulations. However the drawings stand on their own as art works in their own right and are really worth going to see. If you do go, don't forget to walk over the bridge that connects the Henry Moore centre to the art gallery, because the exhibition continues over there. 

This drawing above is made from lots of small sheets taped together, look at it closely to see how using tracing paper can add extra quality to a composite image. The tracing of sections, repositioning and annotating them and layering them over other sections of the drawing gives a sense of scientific or engineering authenticity to the image.

The compartmentalised drawings together with their annotations, suggest the work of some lost 16th century architect. It's interesting to compare Neagu's drawings with those of Erhard Schön. Schön was a 16th century artist working in a similar way to Durer, both artists were fascinated by the possibilities of dividing the human body down into basic units. 

Erhard Schön

The artist Avery Singer has continued this tradition with her huge monochrome paintings of idealised sculptures and monuments. The drawings of  Schön are an obvious direct influence on her work but so are early 3D computer visualisations. Singer uses Google SketchUp to visualise her paintings. This is really a tool for architectural visualisations, and so helps continue the body as architecture metaphor.  

Avery Singer

Of course lots of how to draw books still recommend beginners to simplify the figure by making it out of basic cubic forms. The images below are from a contemporary drawing manual. 

The collision of soft biomorphic body with hard edged architectural forms has a lot of possibilities.
Careful selection of shape and angle can create quite expressive form, such as this standing figure, which is a 3D visualisation of a computer drawing. 

The geometric simplification of form can also be seen in many other visualisations of the human body, the creation of comic book heroes such as Iron Man or the Thing, were perhaps due to comic book artists beginning their sketch-ups by using basic geometric forms to render the body. 

A crossover between the possibilities generated by computer drawing programmes and what could be done with hand drawn marks and paper layering, such as used by Neagu would be an interesting one to explore. We are entering a period when human/machine hybrids will become more and more evident, artists such as Stelarc have already begun to explore the possibilities, I'm sure we will find this area of human/machine possibility as an arena for drawing ideas something that will continue to be very fertile. 


See also Cross Contour post.

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