Found surface

Artist blogger, outside authority, and I spent an afternoon in Birmingham, during which OA made about 20 drawings and I made two.  Here is what was supposed to be a simple sketch in conte crayon on scrap brown paper from the canal side in Brindley place.

We had started the day at the Ikon Gallery, viewing the exhibition of lithographs and other work from German print-maker, Kathe Kollwitz.  I find it difficult to put into words the impact of her images.  She lived in a poor neighbourhood of Berlin across the end of the 19th and through the early 20th century.  Much of her figurative art depicts her own face as she aged and approached death.  Her depictions of women, domesticity and oppression carry an intense humanity.  One wall showed the same scene in multiple variations, the mother holding her dead child.  On the other wall, I found images of households where the shadows obscure the male figure while the woman is highlighted.  I had to look and see the dark silhouette of the man’s back, hands behind him, standing in despair across the other side of the bed: what had taken place between him and his wife who is lit in the foreground?  Again, light shows a mother in bed with three beautifully drawn children in the covers.  The dark mass to the fore is a man, head in hands: unemployment reads the title and I guess the children are hungry.  One I found intriguing and then shocking, a woman lying on her back, her left leg projecting to me, foreshortened and intrusive, in the wreckage of a herb garden, a child in the dark background: raped, said the title, reflecting on an event at the start of a peasants’ rebellion.  I thought back, in contrast, to an exhibition, the legacy of Rubens, a couple of years ago, and the paintings of jolly rolling frolicking flesh to depict rape in classical mythology.

18 responses to “Found surface

  1. I so love Kollwitz’s dedication to realism, showing the truth about life rather than the decadence of so much supposedly great art. Your drawings are gorgeous, the brown paper/newspaper has brought out a different style.

    • It was a good day. Both because it was time to draw but also time to think about art. OA is a very good drawing partner, on a similar journey to me perhaps but more experimental and dedicated, and with greater interaction with the work of other artists in OA’s own art. We talk art but are quiet when we draw. Who could ask for more?

      • Well said. Companionship, shared passion and endeavour and yet space to concentrate on the task in hand are very rewarding. It’s a rare thing. Seems to me that you have all the right elements for a long friendship, if it isn’t already one. 🙂

      • I don’t think I’m more dedicated, just look at how hard you worked at these two, I’d given up and moved on with mine when I could have done more. It was a great day, I really enjoyed it and have been pouring over the catalogue ever since.

    • It’s interesting I agree. It made me look back at it, like the recent conte crayon sketch of rocks I abandoned but people liked better than the more finished pieces. I need to see differently. I realise that Rubens exhibition was an early point in my journey using these crayons. My development is partly in starting to understanding the medium, partly cognitive in picking out the key parts of the composition, not feeling I have to draw it all.

  2. Last time I was in that area was around 1990. I remember Birmingham to be quite ugly, except for that canal area.
    I have lived in Cologne for several years and there is a Kollwitz museum there. Cologne is worth a visit just because of that. They have a large collection of her drawings, prints and sculptures there. Should you ever come to Cologone, don’t miss it.

  3. Pingback: Bloggers’ day out II | outside authority

  4. Pingback: Oceania | kestrelart

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