DRAWS OF PERCEPTION

Este proyecto nace del deseo de hacer una exploración intensa de la práctica del dibujo. Se fijan ciertos parámetros, el tamaño del papel es de 15 x 15 cm y se utilizan materiales básicos como tinta, pluma y pincel. Con estos simples límites, el artista se aventura en la revelación de las infinitas posibilidades que nos ofrece el dibujo como medio. La serie se adentra en las distintas soluciones que pueden lograrse tanto con el medio como en términos de creación de imágenes, encontrar nuevos procesos, sujetos, realidades, ficciones, formas, ángulos y diseños.

Almanza explica “Cuando llevas un buen rato dibujando, es como si drenaras tu código por todas las superficies que tocas. En el caso de esta serie, tenemos muchos pequeños cuadros, muchas ventanas, las cuales representan una serie de nuevas posibilidades a seguir. Al ver todas estas posibilidades podemos finalmente entender que el dibujo es inagotable.”

“Draws of Perception” fue lanzado en 2012 con una muestra inicial de 1001 dibujos en East London. La primera exposición individual de Almanza en Inglaterra.

El artista continúa con la producción de nuevos dibujos conforme dejan de ser “suyos” y alguien los adquiere con el objetivo de tener siempre un grupo de 1001 dibujos disponibles para ser expuestos alrededor del mundo.

Cada exposición ofrecerá nuevas perspectivas y temas al espectador y la oportunidad de verse inmerso en las imágenes cautivadoras del universo visual del artista.

“Su sinuoso estilo de dibujo y pintura es profundamente expresivo y representa el viaje del espíritu humano” Tristan Manco (cita de “Street Sketchbook Journeys", 2010).
 

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This project is born from the desire to make an intense exploration into the practice of drawing. Certain parameters are set, the15 x 15 cm paper size and basic materials of ink, pen and brush, then within these simple boundaries the artist can begin to reveal the infnite possibilities the medium of drawing has to offer. The series delves into the many different solutions that can be achieved with both the medium and in terms of image making, finding new processes, subjects, realities, fictions, forms, angles and designs.

Almanza explains "when you are drawing for a long time it is almost as if you are draining your code all over the surfaces you touch. In the case of this series we have lots of little squares, lots of little windows, each of which present a series of new possibilities to follow. When you see all these possibilities we can understand immediately that drawing is infinite"
 
"Draws of Perception" was launched in 2012 with an initial show of 1001 drawings in East London - Almanza's first solo show in the UK. The artist will continue to create new drawings as they sell with the aim to have a continuous group of 1001 drawings available for exhibition across the world. Each exhibition will offer new perspectives and motifs to the viewer, and a chance to immerse yourself in the captivating images of Almanza's visual universe.
 
"His sinuous style of drawing and painting is deeply expressive and represents the journey of the human spirit" -Tristan Manco (quotation from "Street Sketchbook Journeys", 2010).

 

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Interview

By Georgie Gerrish, March 2012, Monterrey.

 

G: This is your very first solo show in London - how do you feel about the city and what does it mean to you to be exhibiting here?

R: I have visited London three times now. The first time I went I was super excited to be there because it is a place where lots is happening - in art, in everything. From painting to 3 dimensional art, video, movies, installations, design, architecture, everything! That first time was awesome, as to be honest I hardly knew anything about London. I mean I knew which artists were there, but to actually be in London was totally different and it gave me a whole new vision of the city. That first time I stayed for 3 weeks, the second time for 2, and I began to be trapped by the city. I finally understood the structure that exists in London to support this practice (art).
From big museums to smaller galleries, underground spaces, pop-up shows, secondary market galleries, galleries for emerging artists, art dealers, artists, printmakers. The structure of the London art world is huge. I mean London is a big city, not huge like Mexico City for example, but when you are inside it seems almost infinite, like a labyrinth. So to find this place, an area where an artist can really move, is the most exciting thing for me right now. I believe that London, New York, Mexico City, maybe San Francisco are the places to be at the moment. But for me and lots of other artists I speak with, London is kind of the Paris of the artists of the early 20th century. Everybody wants to go to London and make something, meet artists here, do shows. London is this, and to have a solo show here is a really exciting thing.

G: How did you come up with the concept for this show - 1001 drawings?

R: Well I've always wanted to make a proper exploration into drawing as I've been doing it nonstop for 17 years now so it is a medium I find I can move easily in. I began at the age of 15 creating underground sci-fl comics and publishing them independently in small editions. This was a project I started with my friend Dommo called 'Neurona C' (Neuron Comics). We were creating stuff for this over a period of about 2 years, until I was 17 or maybe 18, and I got my first proper job in an advertising agency where I was doing commercial illustration and story boards. After this I was working as an illustrator for a newspaper group, so drawing all day every day, and it has remained an essential part of my practice these last ten years that I've been an artist full-time. But even though I've been drawing for all this time, I've never done something like this. I mean I've made groups of 50, 80, or 100 drawings in the past, and I believed this was a lot, but I've never done such an immense exercise. And why? Well, the idea has been on my mind for a while. In an interview I did at the time of my 'Descriptive Verse' show in San Francisco (2008) I mentioned the idea of doing a large collection of drawings while traveling around the world. The aim was to make a portrait of my reality. But I was always in a rush before and this cannot be rushed, must be chilled, and finally now the time has arrived. You had the initial idea to do this show, you thought that it would be a good idea to do this excercise of 1001 drawings. It was a very good idea from you that I embraced fast as it immediately made a lot of sense to me because of this long-standing dream to do one huge series where I could continue my investigation into drawing.

G: You'll be working exclusively on a 18 x 18 cm format for this show. Is it a very different process for you to work on a small scale? Do you find different images emerge because you're working on a more compact area?

R: Well I worked in this format around 4 years ago on a little series of around twenty drawings, some erotic ones. This was the first time I used this little format and yes it asks for a new process. It is a small space, it is like working on a little formula It is very mental, it is not physical. All the combinations lead to a different result though, not Just the format also the medium, the support. You can be painting small format and it is very different to drawing small format, because each requires a different use of the materials and the tools. For this series I am using Just tractional ink pen and the brush, thats it, its all the materials used to apply ink. It is the most basic yet I believe the most effective.

G: Do you prefer working in ink to working in pencil? What is it about the medium of ink drawing that holds such an attraction for you?

R: The two mediums are very different, and each presents different possibilities. I did a series in pencil 8 years ago that I liked a lot, and I saw a new potential in the pencil that I hadn't seen before. Often pencil is used for sketches or preliminary work rather than the final piece, as it can be erased or changed, whereas the ink line is permanent.
But I began to draw strong bold lines with the pencil, feel the intensity of the material over the surface. The physical strength of my actions produced a powerful image.
This was not using pencil in a delicate way, with a light touch, or in the traditional way of building up the image through tone to create light and shade. In this series it was the first time I used pencil with a real intensity, malting strong lines over the surface, and as a result the image became strong. The energy that you put into the action of making the mark, this physical energy is contained in the final image. You can perceive this energy, the physical action finds visual expression. This is possible with pencil as it is a robust instrument, a pen nib by contrast must be used more delicately, but despite this it is a more precise tool, it produces a cleaner line than a pencil. I think of the contrast in terms of music, and the tools like instruments, the bold line of the pencil is almost like a cello whereas I think I can relate more the metal of the pen to the precision of a guitar. This precise quality makes perfect sense for the format I've chosen.

G: You've mentioned to me your idea of drawing as a sort of writing, could you explain this a bit further?

R: This idea of my drawing as writing is a key thing for me. This is not the case for all of my drawings but certainly all the ones which are most 'me' are this way. When you write a letter or word you are making a shape that communicates something, it is a symbol. But at the same time, even if you are not thinking of it as a personal drawing or design, handwriting is unlque. It is a personal mark, a physical line or shape separate from what it signifies. This relates to another important issue, the difference between the occidental way of making pictures versus the oriental. In the occidental vision at the centre is the human - one human. For example the Greeks, their vision of the world was filtered through the human body. By contrast the Orientals treat image making almost like calligraphy, as writing. The power of the Line and the shapes is essential, they know how to trap the eye. In my work I try to find a balance between these two visions, to marry the two. The line or stroke functions as a physical mark, my personal handwriting, as a design or diagram. Yet at the same time these marks work together to reveal my personal visual universe. You see this idea about writing in all my work, in my painting too. Its about the first intention, every line counts and has significance. Usually the form emerges through the process, flows out naturally. It is the ideas filtered through my mind and their absorption into the hand which gives the image form according to its own physical rules and natural motions. For example the work of Siqueiros; it communicates a powerful political message, yet at same time if you look at the artwork as a physical object, the import of the subject conveyed is balanced against a design and use of line and form that strongly reflects the personality of the artista. It is about his personal marks, the physical interaction between one man and the support. The balance of these two elements is what creates this immense power. When you’re first beginning to develop an idea the hand moves as if it is shy, it moves weakly with fear.  This is because the hand is in a new place and it is not yet accustomed to it. The brain and the hand act together over the surface and as the hand finds its way and the movements become more natural the line becomes more assertive, more strong and confident. The rhythm begins to make sense. This is because you understand what you are doing. Your intuition and instinct become action and power. When you make a work and you are both secure about the image and in control of your movements, you créate the most powerful and effective image. For instance if you use a bow to shoot an arrow at a target, if you have doubts your hand will shake ori f you are not strong enough you won’t have full control of the bow. You need to both physically hold and mentally do the action. If these two actions align successfully its when you are ready to hit the target.

G: Could you talk a little bit about your 'Descriptive Verse' show which happened in 2008 in San Francisco. You told me this show marks a specific point when you first began to explore the ideas you are addressing now.

R: Before the Descriptive Verse show I was working for six years in Oaxaca. I was producing a lot in that period, making individual pieces, series, big paintings, small paintings, paintings on cardboard, on canvas, making drawings and prints on paper.
In 2008, I returned to Monterrey and realised my website had grown huge, maybe at that point it had over 1000 images, with all my sketchbooks and other stuff too. I decided I needed to make my online portfolio more concise so I made a smaller selection of images that truly represented my practice. As a result of doing this filtering process I began to reallse that I needed to makes a series that brought together all my work of this 6 year period. The Descriptive Verse show emerged from this desire to make proper drawings of all my main Amages. At that point it was a man in motion, heads In different shapes, dogs walking. These symbols •••• all recurrent in my images and are still. The plan was to make a kind of alphabet or set of cards that would contain all of my key ideas and symbols. This series was my first good exploration of drawing in the way of writing. A concept about drawing which again is at the forefront of my mlnd now for this new show.

G: So you'll be working entirely from memory when you're doing these drawings?

R: Yes my art is not about creating an optical image or technical representation where the intention is purely to reproduce something, to trap the eye and amaze it. For me optical imagery is the task of machinery, a camera lens or photograph. You can certainly make images this way but I find this almost superficial, it just touches the surface. The memory drawing by contrast comes from instinct, and emerges from images absorbed by the mind over time. It does not represent just one moment but the cumulative total of all your experiences as the pen touches the paper. The image only emerges when it is ready to go on the paper, it comes from ideas that have been processed in the brain for a long time, filtered through other images or processes.

G: In terms of your subject matter, you mentioned that some subjects are recurrent and come up over and over again. What is it about these particular images or themes that draws you to them?

R: Well they become more complex all the time but I never think about it really, they flow out naturally. I'm Just drawing. Its as I told you the other day, in drawing, in painting, in art, you cannot lie. If it is a proper honest process it is impossible to hide anything. A person can see any drawing or image that you make and they can read you, fast, because my work is in this mode of writing. It is art on the edge of different things, it is not just about the idea or subject but also about the configuration of the image and the inner power this has to communicate. The shapes or images that take form carry a second level of meaning which reveals something about my psyche, the viewer can see exactly what I think.

G: Is the final moment when your work is out in the open for everyone to see important to you, what people think? Or is it the process and produotion of the works that is the main thing for you?

R: All is important. I mean behind all my process is the desire to express myself, a human being needs to express themselves, it is an important thing in life. All people can express something whether in writing, or creating art, or just by speaking. This is an exercise in self-expression, the freedom to be, the freedom to show what you are.
You can hide some things for sure as the human psyche is deep, and you never cease to discover more about your actions or feelings. But it is a good exercise to really see yourself, to express yourself and let It all flow. I don't really care if somebody can read me in my show but I do know that I can't hide anything.

G: How do you think you'll feel when you're finally standing in the gallery surrounded by all 1001 drawings?

R: We'll see when we finish how it feels. It can be awesome, sometimes you must put all the things you have in your mind in black and white. Then I think I will see something new. 1001 drawings, awesome, normally it would take me about 3 years to do this quantity of different images, now its happening in 3 months! Maybe this series of 1001 drawings will reveal a code in my work that will be interesting to explore. Because when you are drawing for a long time it ls almost as if you are draining your code all over the surfaces you touch. In the case of this exhibition we have lots of  squares, lots of little windows, each of which present a series of new possibilities to follow. When you see all these possibilities we can understand immediately that drawing Is infinite. There will never be an end to its possibilities as all the things that exist in the world, were constructed or conceived by a human being. The idea occurs first in the head but to be materialised the first step must be making a line over a surface. If it Is a building you need first one sketch, if it is a novel or a poem it is first a trace over a surface. This idea is one that changes almost everything, almost all realities, and for me is very very important. My vision will never be finita - never. Even in one square of just 15 by 15 cm you can go for ages and ages and you will never stop discovering new shapes and ways of representation.

G: And what have you got planned for after this show?

R: After this show I am planning an exhibition of a huge body of paintings that I've been developing for 2 or 3 years, which delve deep into my process. The plan is to show these in London in October. I've also just started to move into the 3-dimensional, I was pushing for this a year ago but its a process you can't force, but now its happening naturally. I’ve got some good ideas for an animation too that I've been working on for a while. There are lots of things. Its Infinite, its impossible to ever finish all.

 

Gallery 1 / Galería 1

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2,3,4.