Drawing in pursuit of actual lines

Yusaku Imamura (Director of Tokyo Wonder Site)

The meaning and rank of “drawing” is currently undergoing a process of redefinition. Activities at New York’s Drawing Center, which opened in the 1970s, are blossoming and particularly regarded, art universities in London are establishing center for drawing, and presentations and publications related to drawing have increased significantly. The art of drawing has begun to rise beyond what has been referred to as mere sketching, and carved its very own niche as an autonomous discipline n the realm art. But not limited to art alone, drawing refers to occurrences of creative activity in all fields of expression, and to a creation process that, regardless of the respective work’s style, communicates in the most direct of ways its creator’s ideas.

The Renaissance idea of capturing single objects and events through line contours as a fundamental technique of art and creation – and ultimately, as a way of defining the world – has introduced the alternative “design” in addition to the original translation “to sketch” of the Italian term “disegno”. In China and Japan, letters (Chinese characters) are hieroglyphs that symbolize concrete objects and phenomena, which is why the art of calligraphy in these countries is far more artistic than western writing culture. Above being symbols, Chinese characters are heavily tinged with a pictorial quality. That’s exactly why we see beauty in these characters, and traditionally hold writing in high esteem as a form of art. Charged with a primordial, dynamic kind of “life”, calligraphy has left its distinctive traces even in today’s contemporary art. In situations of creative work, people on both sides of the ocean have always fallen back on the line as a tool to capture parts of the world. When looking at Suzuki’s work, I feel this primitive human aspirations very strongly.

Suzuki’s creative work takes place on various levels. He produces geometric or architectural looking drawings that somehow resemble the Nazca Lines, or, like the works shown this time at TWS, creates “line drawings” by enclosing leaves in mud and projecting the veins’ fossil-like imprints. He also does live painting events at live music venues, “on the road” frottages with shoes, or installations using pieces of asphalt. It is indeed difficult to talk about Suzuki’s work while referring to one particular category or style, however once the observer recognizes the thorough bass of lines that all of his works share, it becomes quite clearly what the artist is alter. Different form the classical in their function as contours to depict objects, sceneries or ideas, in his drawings Suzuki pursues pulsating, real and actual lines that have a life or their own. In the exhibition at TWS, he presents a movie in which several hundred of his drawing are continually morphing. A symbolic display of the essence of Suzuki’s work, the movie is at once an occasion for viewers to witness a wonderful creation process which notions of meaning are stripped off one by one in the chain of morphing, totally unrelated images. Like Aboriginal dream maps, there strange drawings introduces us living in the present to the secrets of primitive vital energy.

For this exhibition, Suzuki collected leaves from trees in the surroundings streets of Aoyama, enclosed these in mud that he found in the same neighborhood, and finally excavated the leaves and the line imprints they left in the mud. His idea behind this rather troublesome archaeological procedure is to highlight the vivaciousness in things and objects of our direct environments, and cause with the lines he carves out an inexplicable, tingling kind of ache in those who look at them. Through his work, Suzuki introduces us to the actual world like an American Indian medicine man.

January 2008
an essay contributed to the catalogue of solo exhibition “NEW CAVE


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