August 22, 2015

A world of quiet

It occurred to me recently how much my relationship to drawing is informed by a deep skepticism about my authority as an author — as an eye, an arbiter of visibilities, a translator of our world.

Why should one thing be chosen over another? What insight can my point of view bring? Are my attempts at beauty — in character, narrative, or form — universal or fair in any respect, and in what ways are they reflective of bias? Is drawing from the real world a kind of aesthetic imperialism?

I draw what I see: but who am I? Who am I to draw? Who am I to see? And what do I see? For many years now I've lived with the understanding that the things that we draw and the way that we draw them are reflective of our innermost selves: our sensitivities and sensibilities, in sensual and social terms. It is no revelation to say that there is a politics of representation, but I find the responsibility too much to bear at times.

When I look back at my body of work, I see happy, gentle faces, characters holding onto the thin belief that everything will be okay. There is a sense of temporality to their existence; and pat resignation. They can be wistful, but aren't sentimental. They are alone.

There are happy dogs, and children in quiet moments; long women, pleasantly occupied, and dense and desolate urban spaces. This is a world of quiet; slow melancholy; soft isolation; summer light, afternoon light. A lot of being in the moment; of wide eyed not knowing. Life passing.

Reading these as a confession, I gather some sense of myself: that I have a flat but optimistic outlook, skeptical but bright, staid and fragile. This is not a world in which one becomes alarmed: rather, one moves through it, softly, slowly.