Drawing Time Lines, texts for “Reside Residency” 2016-17

Drawing, more than a discipline, is a place I can delve into
and get lost, only to reappear elsewhere.
It is something unexpected and is always frightening.
My only companion is the faith to go on, line by line, no second intentions, devoted to the task, trusting that the drawing will grow, if only I protect it from trends, discourses, and other easy temptations of the ego… if only I protect it from myself can it develop and perhaps became a sanctuary for other viewers.

 

Passage of time

“And I got a strong feeling of the passage of time. Not the time of clouds and sun and rain and the moving stars that adorn the night, not spring when it comes or fall, not the time that makes leaves bud on branches and then tears them off or folds and unfolds and colors the flowers, but the time inside me, the time you can’t see but it molds us. The time that rolls on and on in people’s hearts and makes them roll along with it and gradually changes us inside and out and makes us what we’ll be on our dying day.”

— Mercè Rodoreda, exiled Catalan writer.
Lines from her novel La Plaça del Diamant, quoted by Carlos Velasco with reference to my series of drawings “Time Lines,” exhibited in his Madrid gallery A Cuadros.
English version translated by David Rosenthal.

The experience of living somewhere else for a while, of doing a project outside your own workshop, can be a great opportunity to break with established routines and distance yourself from a safe and familiar place, allowing you to discover new possibilities… a risk with unpredictable results.

But isn’t it possible to make this break without even leaving your city? I’ve been mulling over this question ever since receiving the invitation from British artist Serena Smith to take part in the Reside Residency project.
It seems like the perfect opportunity to reconsider my own working process – a moment of reflection, looking backwards and forwards, but centering on the present moment and the series of drawings “Time Lines,” an attempt to understand the development of my work in relation to my personal space and, most of all, my personal time.

 

Back to the beginning: Time Lines drawings

Two months spent as a guest artist in the Spinnerei, Leipzig, alone in an empty apartment in a totally empty building, factory housing from 1904. Silence, interrupted at night only by cargo trains crossing Plagwitz Station without stopping. From the opposite side, beyond the garden, come faraway noises in the daytime, from the artist community working, and sometimes living, in the old disused factory. It is hard to guess just what exactly is going on inside there, behind the broad windows and heavy bricks walls, it looks so distant and unreal.

Inside these old walls, disconnected from the outside world, with no Internet, TV or radio, and coming from the noisy and crowded city center of Barcelona, my perception of time has completely changed. Now fully concentrating on my work, the drawings made of fine lines start growing in a slow but steady rhythm. In a few days the first “Time Lines” drawings completely fill the walls, altering the atmosphere of the room. With these drawings around me, I was no longer alone

 

Contemplation, as an intimate moment of joy

Tracing fine lines, I can observe with curiosity and silent respect, the force that comes from them as small parts of a growing form. They reunite themselves in a flexible structure with unexpected strength.

Standing back and looking at the drawings with some distance, these fragile lines seem to lose their individual character and almost become invisible, joined in their movement around the center and in their opening into the space. But looking closer, they recover their clear and sharp presence, one by one. It is not necessary to notice any outline or shape, to force them to have an individual character: they stand on their own, going slightly different directions, creating vibrating interferences in their crossing.

There was a time in the history of art, when “the individual gesture” was valued in a drawing, when a “unique style” and “originality”, were taken to the extreme, becoming a kind of conceptual circus for an exclusive group of intellectuals, There was a time, when art was used to reveal the hidden meanings of signs, to make them appear transcendental through complicated discourses. Maybe, features like universality and timelessness were not considered quite as important back then. There was the urgency to “express” oneself as loud as possible, against the institutions of a conservative society – using violence against violence.
Understanding, endurance, and sustainability seem to be the new values. They are reflected in different ways in contemporary works of art, as an active part of society.
Indeed, the classic figure of the lonely hero sacrificing himself for some “high ideal” now has an echo of fascism or fanaticism, of a particularist and excluding way of thinking.

The hard-fought freedom of art that was wrested from religious and political obligations, is nowadays under threat of being kidnapped again by moral causes and economic interests. There is no question that art plays a role in bringing social change. And yet it’s a misunderstanding to turn it into an instrument, and force the viewer to limit his perception to established ideas of how-to-look and what-to-see.

Are explanations, not basically limitations? The moment of contemplation should be respected with silence, as an intimate moment of encounter and joy.

Maribel Mas

Translated by David Burnett

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