figuring figures

My work, lately, seems to be entirely about bodies and the anthropomorphic seeping into the geologic or animal, or even into architecture. But I rarely use the obvious image of a human. What would people look like if I let them into my drawings? I don’t know. The human figure is just so powerful, chock full of direct references to culture and purpose. There are so many directions I want to avoid with the figure that I tend to avoid it altogether. Funny, since some of the most inspiring work to me includes form-breaking dance and body-based performance. I’m not rushing to get them in there, but am interested in exploring what the rub is.

Kiki Smith’s drawn and sculpted figures hold a specificity married with universality. She also rides a line between skill and a satisfying awkwardness:




People like Drew Beckmeyer, who have a hand in illustration, but also make a lot of personal work, sometimes hit the mark for me too. I relate to the somewhat stiff, but also expressive and funny body language Beckmeyer uses:

Betsy Walton‘s recent pieces have wonderful figures that seem to float between worlds, and, while they are clearly stylized, they are becoming more conceptually fluid. (She’s devised some sort of block for saving images off her site. Ah well.)

I saw these pieces of Tatiana Cordoba‘s over at Art Inconnu, a really nice site for seeing work that you likely have never seen (mostly painting).

In the updated spirit of Schiele or Klimt, a sensitive brush sketches and teases out very particular faces, swelling out of a flat pattern. I always seem to respond to that dynamic. I also like unfinished paintings where drawn line is beginning to evolve into form.


Joseph Lange’s 1789 unfinished portrait of Mozart:



expansion, contraction

…and respiration, as one example of the expansion/contraction rhythm. The sleeping scene in this William Kentridge animation (around the 1:00 mark) has been stuck in my mind for some time. I can’t put my finger exactly on why, but I am fixated on the persistence of these small rhythmic continuities (heartbeats, eyes blinking, swallowing spit, drinking water, peeing, etcetera) that accompany us living things wherever we go. It’s about life and its delicate edges, I think, too. And our vulnerability.

I suppose Kentridge is also fixated: