22 PENCIL DRAWINGS OF URBAN LANDSCAPES WITH FIGURES
Another 22 drawings, though there’s nothing special about that number.
All are around Imperial size in the old money, or about 75 X 55 cm, lead pencil on 160gsm Canson. They’re large for pencil drawings because I began the series with a view to entering the Rick Amor Drawing Prize, where this is the largest size acceptable and I thought the scale might impress. They are ‘finished’ drawings – works in themselves – unusually for me, where drawing has previously meant just preliminary sketches. ‘Finished’ drawings seemed to be what the competition was after, although it is not clear to me that they actually have an adequate definition of drawing, much less some measure of excellence. My entries were Boutique Terror and Home Myths and neither made the cut. The rest of the series were made as preparation for a show I’m having in August at the Place Gallery, where I’ll show my Cityicity paintings from 2000 with some new works updating the theme. Basically I was interested in adding figures to the urban landscapes, and the figures were often drawn from my two intervening series, Privacy (2002-4) (female nudes) and Crusade Culture (2009-10) (civil unrest). It seemed a way of consolidating or revisiting developments over the last ten years or so.
Inevitably, the figures shift the focus of the theme and introduce more troubling undercurrents. Just as inevitably, the work never quite turns out the way I’d planned. The urban settings, stubbornly, seem to have drifted to more suburban or garden settings, the figures to more archetypal or mythic roles and all told the pictures are really on the way to becoming the next series. At a certain point you have to go with these things.
As with the Crusade Culture series, a good deal of the preliminary work was done in Photoshop, compositing and adjusting various parts of the scanned sources (now photographic as well as sketches) and allowing variations on figures and settings to be explored quite easily. These variations are reflected in the finished drawings. And had I the facilities, I could as easily have turned them straight into paintings. That will come in the next few months, now that I have a brief studio residency at the local council gallery. I won’t make paintings of all of them, since I have neither the time nor money but also because many of them will be stretching the urban theme too far, as I’ve indicated. I’ll just pick those that fit best. The whole issue of adding colour and facture to drawings is complicated and requires another post.
But I thought I’d present them as a single block of work here, done through February and March 2012, as my own virtual drawing competition. I shan’t announce a winner.
Walk This Way
Cyclist on Footbridge
The House That Jack Built
Cezanne 2: Shanty Town
The Dead of Night
Reveller and Guard
Camper Van and Ruins