Economies of Line

I went to see the Hockney Retrospective at Tate Britain this weekend.

With ‘Bleak’ loitering in my mind – I was impressed by Hockney’s Drawings in ink.

(Bleak – adjective: 1. a bleak landscape: bare, exposed, desolate, stark, desert, lunar, open, empty, windswept; treeless, without vegetation, denuded. ANTONYMS lush. 2. the future is bleak: unpromising, unfavorable, unpropitious, inauspicious; discouraging, disheartening, depressing, dreary, dismal, dim, gloomy, black, dark, grim, hopeless, somber. ANTONYMS promising. 3. a bleak wind: cold, bitter, biting, raw, freezing, icy)

I was most taken by his economic use of line – and the fine, thin (almost anorexic) quality of the line. I know they must be drawn with pen and ink – but that super-fine nib is sublime. The fewest, barest of marks convey the complete essence of his subject. You never feel that you don’t know what they look like or are wearing, but the ink inhabits the tiniest space on this paper.

I oddly note the use of the word ‘anorexic’ above. I have recently been reading a lot of anorexic memoirs (I’m on no. 3). I am fascinated by the discipline and desire required to be anorexic. As someone who eats too much, I am intrigued by someone who can withhold food. A lot of their experiences describe feeling how they have become the essence of a person, a shell, pared down to the most basic elements of a person – without the flesh of the soul or body. I am quite sure this is influencing my pared down version of a landscape.

How stripped back can that be and still be recognisable as what it is?

This will be the area for my exploration.



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