Frances Jayne Newman fine art

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Scene Unseen II 9th May - 1st July 2008

The Primacy of Drawing

In an age where we are all bombarded by endless highly coloured images that flood our modern world, what a relief it is to look at the simplicity of the black and white. This brings us to the contemplation of something less frenetic and infinitely quieter. This surely argues for the primacy and importance of drawing as a medium of value and enjoyment. To extract colour from an object and to see only tones and marks can be an exciting area for contemplation. It is in the drawing of the old masters that we can travel more readily back into that glorious past.

It is interesting to note that the first marks that young children the world over will make are seemingly 'abstract'. They later begin to make simple stick figures which they may clothe. Here drawing is primary. Even if given colour, the colour is used as line, to outline or describe, not to colour areas. Prehistoric works in Africa, Australia and France, consist almost entirely of line. This desire to 'describe' is thus inherent within us all and has meaning for us, revealing again the primacy of drawing.

There are of course many ways of drawing, from the precise classical drawings of Ingres or David to the highly expressive and emotionally charged works of Goya or Van Gogh. Busy mark making has always interested the artists. If we study the drawings of Van Gogh we are in a world of agitated emotional intensity. Goya, by drawing alone, expresses the horror of war. It is interesting to note how Seurat's drawings make the most dramatic use of light and dark in his superbly controlled work in black and white. It seems to me, rather dismal to note, that few contemporary students and indeed 'artists' are able to draw with equal skill or sensibility.

One is further delighted by the agitated scribbles of Feliks Topolski as well as the restrained, delicate and clever drawings of Mary Fedden. Further Giacometti's lively and brilliant drawings of tabletops and studio interiors are a fascinating entry into his creative spirit. And what of Bonnard's tiny intimate scribbles that say so much. One sees how Matisse uses endless drawings to reveal his final intentions – notably his drawings of the pink nude series, where the strength of the final work reveals the weaknesses to be found in the two prior drawings. In another he reveals the progression of a seated nude against a patterned background – how he straightens the model’s back and produces a much stronger and more ruthless interpretation of the figure. This was resolved in a series of drawings. This process of exploration can again be seen in the drawings he did for the work in the Chapel in Vence. Here one can still see the development of his drawings in the final works in stained glass and his large murals. Picasso always did rather fierce and powerful drawings which are charged with a ferocious energy. However he was capable of producing delicately sensitive works as can be seen during his Blue and Rose periods. (continued on page 15)

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Front cover, Back cover

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