Disloyalties with drawing

/ 1 June, 2016

(…) Line Up has been a pretentious exhibition. Up to a certain point. At least in its conception. A proposal with a double standard: making us think and moving wills brooding over day by day, with regularity, in the exercise of collecting.

Armed with a title in English and a sort of subtitle in Spanish— Exposición colectiva de dibujo (Collective Drawing Exhibition)— so as to approach the (curatorial) idea that, as potential viewers, we could make ourselves in an anticipated way which nominally looked like another kind of project. Yes, a nominal hybrid, because perhaps it was not enough with the English phrase, Line Up, although direct, synthetic, elegant, and we could associate it more to another kind of artistic proposal and not so much to a discursive meeting of maestros, well-known artists and youngsters lovers of line and drawing, as it is more or less enunciated in the catalogue printed for the occasion. (…)

On the other hand, in that title I think I verify a metaphor in its sense of alignment, something like the following proposal: this is a group of draftsmen—more exactly, a group of original artworks— who right now we propose as a (good) example of… From my point of view: drawing as art, as a provisional or definitive expression, as a market strategy, as a support of concepts and proposals in uneven times. Because that expression—I am referring to drawing—would never be the same in the two large nuclei of artists who have shaped the essence of Line Up. Let’s define it, in the order of the final destiny: the possible sale.

Years before, in the times of Ponce, Víctor Manuel, Mariano or Lam,[1] drawing should have had various directions, depending on the periods and contexts, the prosperity and opportunities of some of our artists who, incidentally, “handed over” originals of this type for (important) collections in “high” or acceptable transactions, actions granting them certain and circumstantial reliefs. They, who in those times were barely occasional or defined or convinced draftsmen, because they only lived for painting— and barely from it, I insist—, at least in a mental way. Because they were painters above all. They wanted to be painters, to devote themselves to that, forever. But they drew, yes, and much; and what is more evident: at times some of their drawings better define individual and/or collective artistic stages. Seen from our present, formerly the practice of drawing, even as an extra-artistic strategy, was not so immovable. Let us leave aside all abstraction: I am above all referring to the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s in the 20th century, blindly guiding myself by the “styles” of the drawings, some undated, of our consecrated painters in Line Up. Drawing was an intermission. It could be a confession. A transit or note that should be taken to the canvas. It was vital. Every artist of the time was an individual universe. What is more curious? That, in this isle, modernists or academics possibly did not enjoy the extra-artistic results so much, as the draftsmen of the past who made graphic humor, advertising… above all for yesterday’s press. In the magazines and newspapers of the country was the success that modernists and academics searched through galleries, exhibitions, collectors, requests. Then, certain and some draftsmen from the press lived (very well) from their work. They made art, also their art, although it would be visually related with the promotion of a perfume, a domestic product or the editorial line or political worries in a journalistic editorial staffadministration-company. They, those other draftsmen—neither academic nor modernistic: limbo draftsmen—made a work that only today errs from one detail: it is almost in essence a serialized work, a work of which there also are existent originals, but not so increased in value. They cannot compete—something that would not happen in a very long time—in the extra-artistic order with the signatures that attract the most—only at times? — because of the figures backing them. However, competence is possible—and how difficult would it be!— in the artistic level.

In Line Up, of course, living artists of our immediate time were represented and have also enjoyed stages of what drawing entails (today) as a habit, practice, need or artistic law. Or perhaps alternative? Discursive strategy? Territorial delimitation? And even more: as motivation: what is the act of drawing today? Pleasure and something else… Each piece of those exhibited locks up its own answer. Almost unique. Personalized. Almost uniform. (…)

[1] Four of the artists represented in Line Up. Each name successively quoted has been present in it. (It also included artistic variants by Bedia, Elso Padilla, Pérez Monzón, Humberto Castro, Tonel, Kcho, Fabelo, César Leal, Raúl Milián, Servando, Girona, Rodríguez Olazábal, among others).

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