I have made a conscious decision to create abstract works in the series ‘Jazz drawings’. I am not reflecting an image from reality. The image comes about as a result of a drawing process. I start a drawing with a small abstract motif with which I improvise within a set of self-imposed constraints much like a jazz musician will improvise with a music motive. The final image is not determined in advance. It is thus the outcome of a succession of drawing choices. The pen or brush strokes and sensitivity of the lines themselves and the intuition of the moment are an essential part of the creative process. They constitute a signature of the moment. When this process is repeated with the same thematic material and a similar set of constraints, different drawings and images are created within the same (sound)/image palette. (name + take_01; take_02, etc.) This study always provides new perspectives; the result is an evolutionary process. As in jazz, certain themes, over time are re-examined and revived as a source of inspiration. The impulse and the main structure of the drawing are spontaneous and direct with a pen on paper or on canvas and thus indelible. This is not “free jazz” or “action painting”, but rather an accumulation of small shifts which are inhibited by the rules and restrictions that I impose on myself. The further development of the drawing is a meticulous job, an accumulation of small subtle human decisions, a cellular structure of colour, lines and shapes. Like a jazz musician who is seeking his own voice and timbre. Likewise I am looking for a kind of own abstract handwriting. Currently I am doing this by focussing on very elementary shapes. A line from point A to point B. An accumulation and spontaneous structure of lines forms the skeleton of the composition. This creates a tension between this image – “the shape on the paper or the canvas” and the image carrier. ”The shape of the paper or the canvas” I continue to define it with contours and colors. Because of my experience with typography as a graphic designer I also focus on the subtle balance of the legibility of a letter or a shape. The tension and the interaction between the inside and outside of a shape or composition. What attracts the gaze and the eye, and how can you change this, strengthen or weaken this with colors, fine lines and subtle shifts. The self-imposed rules of this drawing process are important to me in order to see if there is any change when repeating the same set of rules. The acquired drawing “skills” and expertise result in a new visual experience, time and again. The drawings and image sequences that come about are given the names of existing jazz compositions following their creation. This work is abstract; it is not a direct depiction of reality. But there is a reference and a form of reflection of reality hidden within.
The following quotes from an interview with Tony Cragg, illustrate a vision around the artistic potential of the creative process – a vision that I share entirely.
Tony Cragg “cutting up material” & “interview by Jon Wood” 1996
It has been established that even the best chess player cannot reckon all the moves in his game beyond the tenth move. Imagine the complexity and potential of an artistic process that requires many, many more than just ten steps. Precisely because of the richness of the sculptural (or artistic) experience and the vastness of its scope does it have such relevance today and that will unfold into the future. While the rest of the world is converting material into a mediocre utilitarian reality the very act of making a painting or, a sculpture today is a radical act of political consequence. The tendency to make art useful, socially significant or, overtly political using the methods, messages and media tools of those who anyway want to control, buy and sell the world is to risk compromising art in its freedom and radicalism.
The forms and images made by artists are seldom the result of groundless innovations, but result out of their understanding of their existences, which in turn can only reflect the knowledge, history and beliefs of the artist’s culture.
(Tony Cragg, °1949 Liverpool, artist)