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Thursday, 16 February 2012

Black Series [Self Portraits 5th series]

The Black Series of Self Portraits
Drawn January to February 2012 this is a selection, the full series being on my Facebook page.

Drawing white on black is like carving on stone.  
This is because we are also in the act of removing the extraneous material. Or with this distinction ... we are *marking out* where the removals are. Working white on black we are notifying of negation.    

There is nothing more exhilarating than line, in drawing. It has a mystic power - but it must always be remembered that the line doesn't belong to the object it delineates, nor does it belong to the space around the object, nor to contiguous objects. It belongs to nothing - it is the conscience of seeing.
A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass. [Shakespeare Sonnet 5]
I recline, on my haunches, seemingly relaxed as I attempt to capture my Self in the Glass. But the very air is electric, black, steel.
In the old age black was not counted fair, or if it were, it bore not beauty's name. But now is black beauty's successive heir, and beauty slandered with a bastard shame. [Shakespeare Sonnet 127]
'Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed. [Shakespeare Sonnet 121] 
In this black room I draw white lines on a black page, just as a condemned man feeds only on bread and water. 
In this bare room there is only the most basic of furniture, and that ... 
Mirror ... 
That mirror, which lusts after the light and wants to draw me into its voidal vortex, its black hole. 
What gods are in the pit of this glass?
The night is a vampiress - but even she feareth to taste my blood, for my blood is black ... black - shot through with silver shocks. How the Medusean doth fear this glass!
7th of February 2012. The snow fell over night. What else could I do but make a drawing? Drawing during the still of night, white on black - Occult Essence.
Ultimately, drawing is about *line* - Klee's 'taking a line for a walk', however 'pedestrian' that sounds. 
Line is equivalent to melody in music and is purely emotional, while tone is visceral. Tone covers harmony and rhythm, but Line is the ultimate because it always *suggests* tone and rhythm. Line is symbolic; line is also a cadenza. 

A friend viewing this picture asked why I always depict myself looking 'angry'. It was a nice comment and reminded me of a colleague who also used to say to me, 'Bill, you should smile more, you always seem to be angry'. So art imitates life. Of course, I couldn't really see what she meant at the time as I rarely felt angry, but I was often admonished for my 'sidelong glance', and my 'dirty look'. I was oblivious to all this and put it down to 'perception'. But when I started this self portrait series I found myself looking not to make a 'likeness' on the outward appearance, but to plumb the depths of the inner 'reality'. I started to perceive myself as others perceived me as I began looking for the 'evil' in me.

Woodcut influence here. Of course, as I started to make this white on black drawings I immediately started to look at woodcuts, particularly those of the German Expressionists etc.
When line is pursued it begins to take on a patterning, distorting forms. In my case the distortion and attenuations are always from a psychological base. I don't need to tell the reader that these pictures are a psychic journal. And here let us remind ourselves that the situation for each picture is the same. The same environment, the same mirror, the same pencils and the same black drawing pad. And the same Self? There's the rub, it is the Self that varies so wildly from one moment to the next.    

The mirror's surface at night seems to cackle with a black, burnt, shimmer, sucking out my eyes like the smoke from a naked bonfire.
Oath to the Black Void.
Black is the colour of Chaos.
The mirror is the gateway to inversion - 
Evil Heart, 
Kind Eye.
Still Hiding ... Every Revealing is a Hiding.

Drawing white on black forces one to remember that we are essentially always drawing light. 
By starting with a Black Ground, which is an absolute lack of light, we are forced to draw and drag light into that arena. 
It is very much like being in the underworld where there is only blacknesse. 
One has to search there for glimmers of light. 
Drawing on a black ground is a privation, a punishment. 
It is a step towards oblivion. 
Needless to say, drawing in this way brings out the evil in one's soul - and we all have evil in our souls ... don't we?

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