George Negroponte
Debating Drawing

Statement, July 2005

These works on paper represent my last two years in the studio (Otherwise to many “work” repetitions), a time during which I've felt like an inventor disassembling and reassembling a prototype. A long ongoing debate about painting verses drawing is embedded in the fabric of these works. The ever simpler and blunter work I’m presenting here probably results from the unavoidable self-criticism inherent in middle age. Primacy counts more than anything right now. I want to get down to the barest essence: discarding the object for a trace or glimpse of it residing in the weight of each mark or shape. Hands on, hands off – it is a workmanlike approach to an existential problem.

For me, these works are as basic as first steps. I make reams of casual, unrehearsed drawings, letting my hand guide me. With a brush, I make marks with gouache or acrylic sometimes with colors that happen to be handy or already mixed. Most of these drawings are scrapped, but some are pinned up for future consideration. The next step is tricky. A kind of marriage takes place, leaving almost every finished work to consist of two or three fused drawings. In this context, a torn-out detail could become central; any fugitive mark or smudge or spill could find it’s vital place. It is a dance between surrender and intention, in which grace is possible. The joining is a little different in each instance. Two or three sheets of paper brought together create a jolt where they meet. Sometimes the separateness of the images is emphasized at this edge or intersection. Sometimes it appears more fluid. In any case, it’s the edge of the paper that determines how the final image coheres. In these drawings, the visual gently claims victory over the conceptual. No boundless ambition to tackle the entire universe -- just passion and attention to a form in space. It’s really something when it happens before my eyes, as if it were simply meant to be: unequivocally real.

George Negroponte
July 2005