“What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is only related to objects, and not to individuals, or to life.” Michel Foucault
An interesting and thought provoking exhibition of drawings from life by artist George Burchett is on view at Hanoi’s 21N on Lang Yen Phu.
On show are 44 digital prints of quick sketches drawn from life on iPhone and iPad ap of scenery from around Yen Phu in Hanoi, observations of street life, people acting, people interacting, people’s faces — in other words — people in their daily life.
This exhibition brings forth the immediacy of the question of how today’s artists view and relate to their own life through the art they create.
The drawings on show are interesting on many levels: on the level of purely human interaction with its environment, on the level of social interaction, on the level of the use of modern communication and information technology for the purpose of creating art, on the level of art and its process as such, art as a gesture, art as observation, inquiry and record; art as experience and memory, of artistic expression and its permanence; art as a depository of existence and knowledge; art as a language traversing the lines of creative expression to assemble its meanings in fresh new ways with its original reaction.
This art looks disarmingly simple and innocent, but is of the kind that, as the great Hokusai supposedly answered when asked how long does it take for him to produce a picture…”it takes five minutes and a lifetime”…
To draw from life means exactly this — literally and figuratively.
The works in this exhibition were created as a spontaneous reaction to life, where the daily communications tools like iPhone and iPad were used as a portable studio in place of a piece of paper and a pen, allowing the artist to work anywhere he goes or spends time.
In drawing from life in this manner the artist and its subject mesh their being without premeditated negotiations or sought beforehand permission — it is taken for a given as an axiom of their co-existence at that very place and time in the world.
The observing gaze of the artist is marking the moment with its presence and elongating it as line into the infinity of its expression: it is grasping and affirming the very act of existence and for that very reason it cannot be accused of the violence of intrusion in its subject, as existence is anonymous per se, where privacy as a norm does not exist.