Friday, July 10, 2009

From Murano Grande

This is one of a few posts I'm going to do on contemporary drawn landscapes, based on Phaidon's excellent survey Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing. Emma Dexter's introduction to the book examines the open possibilities of drawing today - in contrast to photography this archaic form is now 'an under-regarded and under-theorized backwater.' The definition of drawing can be stretched from pictures made with pencil and paper to inscribed landscapes (she reproduces Richard Long's A Line Made by Walking where the earth is revealed 'as a surface or ground to be marked, etched, and scarred by the body as the instrument of drawing, taking the role of pencil or pen.') However, the artists I'll mention here have been concerned with drawing in the traditional sense, depicting imaginary landscapes in a medium that can convey formal precision, satirical bite or childlike innocence.

The first of these is Cuban artist Glexis Novoa, who now lives in Miami. Here is an extract from Rubén Gallo's discussion of his work. 'Rem Koolhaas once wrote that in the future, all cities will be generic, as bland and nondescript as airports. Many of Novoa's drawn landscapes, including From Murano Grande (2002) depict the generic city of the future: unspecific urban spaces that could be located in Europe or America, in India or Africa. The cityscapes seem ostensibly prosperous - the buildings are tall, the streets are clean - but are entirely devoid of life. There is not a single soul on the streets. The cemetery-like coldness of these environments is further intensified by the artist's choice of slabs of marble as support for his drawings. Novoa provokes our thoughts: Are these dehumanized cities what the future holds in store? Or are they already a reality in many parts of the world?'

Looking around for an image of this work on the web, I see it is possible to buy a From Murano Grande scarf. Here are three more Glexis Novoa landscapes from the artist's website:
You can also get a feel for his work from a few videos on Youtube, e.g. "Cuba, Fidel & Obama" (SITE, YF-23, Kim Il, Samotracia, ONL & palmera Antiimperialista).

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