Look for contemporary works where you sense some of the artists feeling – where the marks, lines, etc., offer something of the artists state of mind. Look for speed, pressure, angles, curves, jabbing marks, disjointed and rough marks, etc. For example, see Julie Brixey-Williams’ drawing locationotation at http//www.saatchiart.com/art/-locationotation/91093/396898/view make notes in your learning log and consider whether art is really capable of expressing emotion. After all, a drawing is not (usually) a human being so how might it act as an emotional conduit between artist and viewer? Is it the image, the medium or the act that brought the art work into being that makes it ‘expressive’ or ‘expressionist’? Or is it all of these and more?
To be expressive, you are conveying a thought or feeling or sense of something, and technically lines/ marks on the paper can do that and a piece of art can excite, enthral, revolt. Is it the marks or the content? I’ve already commented on how I believe some work can be expressive of confidence in the medium. It can display a knowledge of shape and create a response from the viewer in the final image.
We are asked to look at Locationotation by Julie Brixey-Williams.
Julie’s work ‘Explores the two-way relationship that the body shares with space, bringing together various approaches such as collage, installation, photography, performance and drawing that aim to expose the traces and choreographic hieroglyphs created in movement’ (http://www.juliebrixey-williams.co.uk). The piece locationotation is I feel, expressive of movement, the lines are graceful, much like the movement of the pirouette the work is based on (a number of ballet dancers performed a pirouette at the same time all around the country. the expression of this movement was then transposed to paper by Julie with graphite) the repetition of the action and then the marks on paper creating an almost 3 dimensional shape which describes the sense of the action, without showing the form or background or the effort a ballet dancer has to go through and muscle control required to create the movement. Maybe we are supposed to feel Julies joy at the sense of movement? I don’t know, I’m more inclined to think that the effort getting everything to work together as a background and then thinking through the motion and technique for the final artistic work probably took away from the original rush of emotion that conceived the idea. I get no sense of emotion from Julie in this way.
Looking at Julie’s work, I think I get a better sense of the repetitive movement as individuals from One Second Ballet, I can believe each long dedicated strand of graphite is a single persons action. I think this is more expressive than Locationotation.
But again is not a swiftly felt emotion captured on paper, its taken too long to set up to achieve that. even if the style is loose, its too well documented.
In Susan Turcot’s Ghost pictures, she seems to use emotional marks, possibly to display her frustration, anger or confusion about the world and specific events. However she has had to depict the events in pictures so they make sense before creating an area of haphazard marking, dark scribbles over the work. This as a comment without words is expressive, but it feels a bit false to me, having put so much time and effort into the rest of the picture, to quickly mark with jagged lines over a specific bit seems a waste, but maybe thats her point.
Her 2007 work, Wellington is to me more effective than this earlier work, the faces themselves seem unfinished. So the dark, heavy, seemingly uncontrolled areas work as a good comparison to the softness of the faces making them feel almost eerie and slightly lost.
After seeing the work of Julia Atkinson at my local gallery, I can say I admire her expressive use of charcoal, her pictures show sweeping lines confidently burning across the paper, showing an admiration for the way nature has formed something. These are a joyful record of the structure within some plants.
Also, Sebastian Hammwohners pictures captured my imagination. His expressive use of dark backgrounds to set off coloured lines produces pieces that make you look twice But I think I am more gazing in wonder at the technique rather than the potential meaning the artist may have been trying to get across…
Untitled (2003 pastel on paper Vitamin D Phaidon Press 2011)
Overall, I would say that most art takes longer to make than the emotion can be held onto with the same fire it originally burned with. Emotion at the time the idea pops into the head of the creator can predict the effect the artist wants the work to have, the choice of medium and how it is used can add to that and create pieces that then have an effect on the viewer. Yes, I can see expressive marks, but they could have all been planned and within the continuing style an artist already has with a medium, at a specific size, having achieved the zone on that given day. Elizabeth Peyton according to Vitamin D (New perspectives in drawing. Phaeton Press reprinted 2013) page 252 ‘she admits unashamedly to loving many of her subjects’ and I can see that in her pictures, the faces stare back at you and I can almost believe they love me back, the pictures are intimate in the use of the tools used, but we’re talking celebrates for a large chunk of her work, so actually either she’s a stalker or thats her style, her technique.
Control is actually really important in art. Without control of the materials I use to make a picture, I don’t replicate the idea and point in time internally or externally I have had the idea to recreate. A forceful scrawl of charcoal on paper can show how dark my emotions are but cannot necessarily make sense of them, I need to put an image down somehow to convey to the viewer the extent of the thought/emotion and even then there is no guarantee my hoped for reaction is going to be picked up.
So I think that its more the thought on what/how I’m going to make that image and my technique and style that has the impact in the final product than my emotional state at the time I am making the marks.