Wednesday, 4 March 2009

STORYTELLERS and narratives in drawing

Hi! Frances here with a post for the new topic 'STORYTELLERS'. My idea is to think about whether narrative can or should exist in drawings, and how it's conveyed. -It's also a way of opening up the field away from a fine art/gallery type context and letting in graphic novels, illustration, design presentation drawings, etc.

However, to start out I am posting a gallery artist, Yun-Fei Ji. He was artist-in-residence at Yale 2006 and some of his work and a video of him talking about himself can be seen on

I think I first read about him when he was in an exhibition called 'Dargerism: Contemporary arts and Henry Darger' -or maybe it was during the Yale residency. Anyway, I got interested in him because he said that looking at traditional Chinese painting and using it as and for a political statement gave him 'permission to use narrative' in art. Most of us will have had our work slapped down at one point or another with the put-down that it's 'illustrative', and straight narrative is a difficult area for fine artists, maybe because the pull of the story seduces the artist and the audience into accepting a weak visual statement. So, in short, and for starters, I'm posting this image, the ideas of this artist, and some suggestions about storytelling.

Apart from using the cultural resonances of the technique (mineral colours on mulberry paper) and the contrast between the harmony in landscape normally conjured by traditional Chinese art and the unhappy landscape story pictured by Yun-Fei Ji (the 3 gorges dam, the flooding of vast areas and disruption of society caused by this project), Ji also uses the Chinese perspective constructions to illuminate the story at all places and right across the surface, rather than concentrating in one area which is the effect of Western illusionistic perspective constructions. So Western perspective tends to concentrate attention on one area which creates a kind of driving narrative, analogous in my mind to Western classical harmonic structures that also have a forward driver.

No comments: