Wednesday, 18 November 2020
Wednesday, 11 November 2020
There is something about an X that goes a long way back and we keep returning to it over and over again to create key symbols in our visual iconography. The common 'X' opens out some very interesting features about the relationship between drawing and language. I have touched on some of these issues before, often when looking at those entoptic forms that humans have been using for thousands of years such as spots, dots and zig-zags.
Entoptic categories, each represented here by a typical form
We have all signed off a text message with XX to mean kisses, which is a custom in language that dates back to the Middle Ages, when a Christian cross was drawn on documents or letters to mean sincerity, faith or honesty. It was also used in early Christian history to stand for 'Christ' which in Greek was χριστός the X standing in for the entire word. This was of course quite a useful thing to do when Christianity was a forbidden religion. The issue here is how the kiss, a physical act between two people, becomes graphically represented by an X. It does look a little like two faces coming together, and more importantly that tiny point of contact where we would expect the mouths to be is in the X a visually and psychologically heightened moment.
Saturday, 7 November 2020
Oxlade's images are odd, funny, sensual, absurd and visceral. He didn't like French art "The problem with French painting," he wrote, "is it all seems a bit Montmartre." I.e. it had become mannered and he was always in a battle with what he thought of as English insipidness.
It is very hard to make a surprising image, the older you get and the more practiced and knowledgeable the easier it is to slip into tried and tested ways of making images. It is very hard to continually surprise yourself, but Oxlade in many ways achieved this and in doing so left a powerful legacy to those coming after him. Hopefully this is not a legacy in terms of how things look, or a style, but is a way of ensuring that art and life don't become separated. Life is surprising, odd, funny, horrible, tragic and visceral, is chaotic in nature and of infinite complexity and so why shouldn't art be the same? We have all at one time or another burnt the toast and thrown it in a bin, but how many of us have thought that it might be worth a drawing?
One of the best responses an image can have from an audience is, "That's daft", words that for me mean that something has happened to raise a question in someone's mind about the nature of reality. It might also be funny. Never under estimate the power of humour.
On some days the light source is more lively than the model. Who has never gazed at the angle-poise lamp with admiration. Pixar have branded themselves with it. Oxlade I suspect surprised himself when he made the image above, an image that is indeed, 'daft'.
Rose Wylie lived with Oxlade for most of his life and painted her own surprising images that in many ways surprise us even more than his.
I saw some drawings by Nadine Fienson not long ago from her 'Sex Toy’ series. They had a freshness that suggested that she was trying to tap into things she was still finding awkward and difficult, like life.
Sunday, 1 November 2020
Iranian artist Maryam Ashkanian's hand-sewn ‘Sleep Series’ consists of embroidered drawings of sleeping people and their dream states. Ashkanian uses the concept of the dream as a way of getting audiences to enter a very different relationship with her portraiture. She states, “Pillows are a metonymy of a dream,” and “Every person has a close relationship with his or her pillow."