WHY DRAWING?

This past Thursday night Elizabeth Schlatter, Deputy Director and Curator of the Harnett Museum of Art at University of Richmond, interviewed Wynn Kramarsky, art collector and owner of the works on paper being exhibited now through October 16th in Art=Text=Art.

“Drawing gets close to the process of making art,” Kramarsky began in his hourlong litany of reasons for being passionate about works on paper, particularly drawing. He believes it the “medium that speaks loudest and clearest” while imparting a sense of immediacy—capturing what must be done, now, this moment on the paper. A drawing should be held in hand and investigated at leisure, not in quick succession as with film or video images, but over a period of time until the “Why?” questions make the piece wholly captivating. Why did the artist do this? What were they thinking? Why did they make these choices?

When Kramarsky speaks of the artworks he owns (and shares generously with others) he betrays an intimacy with the work that sounds like family, friend, or even lover. He referred to the “sensuousness of the paper” while leaning forward in his chair, a sparkle of desire in his eye. Once you have that paper in hand a relationship is formed, a commitment made to discovering what is going on there. “Only seeing it and feeling it can let you know what’s going on in the drawing.”

With Christine Hiebert’s drawing L.99.1 (1998-99), the largeness of the 48 x 106.5 inch composition initially thrusts the viewer back to take it all in entirely. But a closeup eye reveals the hard or softness of the charcoal pencil marks on paper, and the tiny erasure holes spattered throughout created by the artist’s wielding hand. A sense of process and time takes the place of line and form so that a discovery has been made beyond the visual image.

The power of a drawing to inspire contemplation is an attribute revered by Kramarsky, who admits that he turns to certain works to calm down when he feels agitated. Such meditative works include Mary McDonnell’s Untitled (2007) or the artist’s book titled Breaths #1 (2009) by Jill O’Bryan. The repetition and blatant handwork connect the mind to the present tactile space while also expressing the natural movements of time from beginning to end, outward from within, or from inhale to exhale.

Mary McDonnell, “Untitled” (2007)

Image courtesy of www.artequalstext.com and Kramarsky Collection, New York.

 

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