Drawing as Signals

Hiraku Suzuki

I have been drawing since I was about 3. There used to be a lot of blueprints at my home because my father was an architect and I used to draw something like a moai on their reverse. I also spent a good chunk of my childhood excavating unknown things like earthenware fragments, minerals, and fossils in my neighborhood. When I was 10 years old, I saw a small photo of the Rosseta stone and read stories about deciphering the glyphs, which completely fascinated me. Then I wanted to become an archaeologist. 

Although now an artist my practice, including works on paper, on panel, mural, installation, frottage, live drawing, video and so on, are reference to the new possibilities of drawing in the world today. The method I have in my mind through the act of drawing, however, is still closer to ‘excavating’ things that are hidden in here and now, than to ‘depicting’ objects/scenery/ideas in a classical way. 

Archaeology was considered a collaborative work for artists and museums until the 19th century. Today, now there are the vast uninterpreted fields from our past. I can’t help thinking about the genesis of drawing which has the synchronia with the beginning of language in the human history. There are various hypotheses on it, but I think the most relevant one is the 29 lines that the upper Paleolithic people carved on common stones around 35 thousand years ago – which are thought to have been recorded the days between phases of the moon. There were 4 elements in the occurrence; the light, the transformation, the stone and the act of carving. Those carved lines might be thought of as the most primitive form of glyph or drawing – they function as the record of time past and also as the signal of the future.

Obviously, my country Japan is facing an unprecedented crisis now, and this is no longer the local concern in Japan, nor is the issue’s scope limited for the people of today. It is particularly at times like this that one starts to ask questions about the strong relationship between what we call art and humanity in a real sense. In order to do so, we should know that the moment we call ‘now’ is not a dot, independent from past and future. I believe, by the act of drawing and looking at the signs that have been drawn, we can take ‘now’ into our own perspective, because drawing has always been the intersection of direct human circumstance and the long cosmic time since its birth, and it will continue to be.

My exhibition ‘Glyphs of the Light’ at Wimbledon will consist of about 40 pieces of new drawing work and some sculptures which I am producing during this residency in London. Every work represents the intersection of my intimate relationship with phenomena taking place on my current environment at Chelsea as well as my interest in archaeology and language. Recently I have been greatly inspired by the residual images of transformation of sunbeams streaming through leaves on the road. I hope my works to be as the creative mediator – linking subtle memories of ‘signs’ and ‘phenomena’ with the future.

July 2011
contribution to “Bright6” published by The University of the Arts London


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