handmade books and artwork by Geoff MacEwan

Three Works on Paper

Work on paper is a category that includes not only drawing but also a variety of media including printmaking; In other words, any technique involving paper in its various manifestations.

A few weeks ago an artist friend of mine who I'd known for many years invited me to look at his drawings and since I knew his work only through his paintings I felt curiously honoured because drawing is often the intimate ground for later and more defined manifestations. Works on paper are, by their very nature, more vulnerable to decay but they also have a personal and informal imprint which can tell us a great deal about the process through which a painting or a sculpture comes into being. They are often a midway stage between the artist's unresolved insights and a finished work in which the general structure is imagined but where subconscious elements are less subject to censorship. Yet drawing, perhaps because its commercial value is relatively low, hardly figures in the exhibitions of the less than famous. When I viewed my friend's work I saw the sources of his work that I had only guessed at in his finished canvasses.

The traditional artists' training starts with drawing from the life model or from objects which tutor an understanding of space and form. An important discipline is laid downearly on through constant contact with pencil and paper. The eye and the hand learn to work in unison and through this process an understanding of our relationship with the objective world laid down. It may be discarded later yet it will underpin the severest reduction. The painter Brigid Riley, whose works are potently geometric emphasised her debt to her life drawing master Sam Rabin, who strangely enough was also mine. The preparatory sketches that Roy Lichenstein made for his famous Pop paintings are a potent example of the importance of drawing as a means of organising thought, because in the visual arts structure is always thought made manifest.

I have to say that as someone who trained as a painter, I've never felt that works on paper were in any way secondary to either painting or sculpture. Their intimacy and relative rapidity of execution has always attracted me. A painting is an endeavour which has a quite different feel to it, precisely because it imposes a more extended timescale and therefore a different mind set; yet in both cases the artist is involved in a crucial dialogue with an evolving material manifestation of his or her thought which circles around the subject matter. People who see the finished work often see an image set in amber and are quite unaware, as perhaps they should be, of the struggles resolved to attain completion; yet if the final work has any power it is precisely because of the depth of discourse that the artist has had with his or her work, this portion of himself.

These three works on paper include various aspects of drawing even though I have used paint and in the case of Shifting Values portions of text. All of them are meditations on a theme and each one was allowed space to evolve out of an initial response to a contemporary event or attitude that troubled me. Night Flight deals with the simple but callous reality that effective bombing raids are best carried out when there is no moon; Dirty Drawing ,Irak attempts to express the material devastation brought about by military violence and Shifting Values with its liquid motifs suggests the malleability of our opinions. If these three drawings have a diagrammatic quality this is quite deliberate, because for me a drawing is always an explanation, firstly to myself, but one which I hope will eventually travel further.

Paper: Gavaro 300gms
Material: Acrylic/Pencil

Dimensions: 70 cm × 50 cm × 0 cm