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Virtual Drawing Marathon: The Shock of Icarus – Avian Space & Elephantine Weight with Graham Nickson & Guests
Ovid’s Metamorphosis would have us believing that Icarus fell to Earth by flying to close to the sun. However, trying to fly is a metaphor for his ambition, his way to escape his own restrictions. He looked at birds, which are free and inquisitive. Like in a drawing, birds explore space by making it tangible in the aerial pathways in the sky; literally making the negative space active and full of surprises, flying in and out of the cavities. Good negative spaces have a crucial role in drawing, they can hold it all together.
Countering this, we display the weight of forms in a drawing, which brings to mind that monumental and gentle animal: the elephant. Extraordinary, huge and endangered, the elephant has demonstrative weight as a presence. Our task is to describe the bond between these two elements, to witness the intense relationship between form and space and pull them together. The freer the space, the more weight the forms carry. Using the rectangle inventively gives us the arena of the search for that which exists in between the spaces and their opposites, translating into exciting drawings and a revelatory experience.
The birds and elephant are metaphoric, but they describe our need. We shall look at early works by cave painters, Etruscan artists, and later painters like Mantegna and Rembrandt, Matisse and Picasso, and make transcriptions of these.
Dean, Atelier Head of Painting