DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt

2010/05/04

We See Differently

Poster for “We See Differently” exhibit at CUNY Lehman

If you’ve attended an open life drawing session, not a class where an instructor is steering everyone down a similar path but a practice session for artists of all levels, you’ve probably had the experience of walking around the room on the breaks and noticing how very differently different artists are responding to the same subject.  Everyone is seeing basically the same thing, but one will have bold hard slashing lines and another gentle clouds of color, in one the model will appear serene while in another he looks angry, one will look like a study of classical sculpture and another like an acid hallucination.  It’s a dramatic demonstration of the power of representational art to reveal not just the subject, but the subjectivity of the artist.

Artist Daniel Galas, currently in a graduate program at CUNY’s Lehman College in the Bronx, has curated an exhibit based on that idea.  He organized a free life drawing session, two days with the same model in the same pose, and invited a variety of artists to come to the session and submit their results for a show.  The participants include Lehman art students and artists Daniel met at Spring Studio in Manhattan – the latter category includes me.

The model, Tedra, took a classic angular seated pose, with lighting from both sides and an Indian batik cloth as a backdrop.  Here’s my first of four sketches from the session:

"We See Differently" #1, 2010, drawing by Fred Hatt

In the following example, Lenward Snead captured Tedra’s strong face in profile:

"We See Differently", 2010, drawing by Lenward Snead

Ray Rosario focused on the angular structure of the arms and shoulders and let the face merge into a cloud of light that defines an inky shadow around the body:

"We See Differently", 2010, by Ray Rosario

I got to know Kimchi Kim back in the 1990’s, when she was a regular at my movement drawing sessions.  She’s a specialist in loose and lively gestural figures.  Kim made multiple studies of the model’s feet, curving in opposite directions like the fishlike forms in the Taegeuk or yin-yang diagram.  Kimchi Kim has a solo show opening this month at Spring Studio.

"We See Differently", 2010, by Kimchi Kim

James Horner is an artist and writes about art for the examiner website and his own blog.  I believe the linear shapes in his abstract painting are derived from the model’s pose, but he certainly didn’t feel constrained to restrict himself to a physical depiction!  Nonetheless, the colors and forms here make me feel happy.

"We See Differently", 2010, by James Horner

Daniel Galas, the organizer of the session and its exhibit, was an abstract painter doing cathartic expressions of inner states until he began to feel the need for an external focus in his work, which led him to take up the classic themes of landscape and portrait.  His portraits all feature a certain controlled distortion, but powerfully capture the individuality of his sitters.  They also show a fascination with the textural specifics of pores and blemishes.  Daniel cites El Greco as an inspiration.  To me, his work also evokes the cockeyed psychological realism of Alice Neel.  Here is Daniel’s very large-scale charcoal portrait of Tedra:

"We See Differently", 2010, by Daniel Galas

I did a big face drawing too.  It’s interesting to compare these two larger-than-life heads.  To my eye, Daniel’s head of Tedra has the stony grandeur of an Easter Island moai, whereas mine has a much softer, maybe sad quality.  Notice the difference in the size of the eyes relative to the head.

"We See Differently" #2, 2010, by Fred Hatt

These and many other visions from the same life drawing session will be on view in “We See Differently” in the basement gallery of the Fine Arts Building at CUNY Lehman, 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West in the Bronx.  The opening reception is on Thursday, May 13, 2010, at 5 pm, and the show will remain on view through the Summer.

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