For me, it was also very important that drawing was a monochromatic medium – that colour was not an essential part of it. When I worked with colour, I was always stuck with the question, “does this look nice?”, and that’s a terrible basis on which to be an artist. Since then, I’ve learned to paint, and in fact I could be quite a good Sunday painter. But it’s not a medium in which I think, and the vital thing about drawing for me is that it is a medium in which one can think.
Drawing is a non-verbal thinking process. One of the things about charcoal drawing is that it is instantly alterable – you can change it as quickly as you can think. One wipe of a cloth and the image disappears or is smudged and you can rethink it. The flexibility of drawing is important. There’s an immediacy of drawing, of thinking in drawing, which is vital for me.
During my studies, I was looking at a lot of the German expressionists and at early Russian films. I was looking at those branches of modernism that didn’t leave figuration. For me, abstraction was like colour: when I tried to work in complete abstraction, I had no idea what I was doing, why I should make one mark and not another. Now, in fact, a number of my drawings end up as non-recognisable smudges on paper – but they’ve had a route to get there that started with a connection to a representation of the external world.
I produce many different kinds of drawings. Some are just drawings. Others are done in the service of something else, to be animated, used for a film, opera or a piece of theatre, where the demands of the nature of the transformation might be given by the libretto or by the music.
I work closely with different kinds of references. I have a collection of images and things to which I refer throughout my working process. I find my visual imagination is always less interesting than those things I’ve discovered in looking at the specifics of details. If one can hold on to the specific, it almost always is more interesting.
‘The object of art is not to reproduce reality to but to create a reality of the same intensity.’
`The spectacle of the sky dazzles my mind. When i see the sun or the crescent of the moon in the immense sky, i`m absolutely overwhelmed. In my pictures, besides, there are many small forms in vast empty spaces. Empty spaces, empty horizons, empty plains, everything that is bare and empty always impresses me….I begin my pictures under the effect of a shock that i feel and that makes me escape from reality. The cause of this shock can be a small thread that has come loose from the canvas, a falling raindrop, or my fingerprint on the shiny surface of this table..`
and `I consider my studio a kitchen garden. There are artichokes over there, potatoes over here. You have to cut off the leaves for the fruit to grow. At a certain point, you have to cut. I work like a gardener, or a wine grower. Things come slowly, i didn`t discover my vocabulary of shapes all at once, for example. It took shape almost despite myself.’
‘Historically painting was seen as female, but the males were the painters and the females the models. Now the female takes the main role. She paints herself. The model becomes the artist. She creates herself. She is not there to please you. She pleases herself. The question is not ‘Who is she,’ but ‘Who are you?’
‘I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may, — light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful.