For the drawings, I was interested in combining two different ways of looking at the elephant skull. The first is that associated with close observational drawing where acute visual perception plays a vital role. (Most commonly in art we associate it with life drawing or sometimes with landscape painting, for example).
The second method is that perhaps today most closely associated with the art historian Alois Riegl and the theorist Gilles Deleuze, namely haptic perception. Haptic perception is perhaps best understood as a form of ‘tactile looking’: Here, the eye enters into an intimate form of close-up looking and thus haptic perception is a form of ‘touching’. So, whereas observational drawing is about distance, objectivity; haptic perception is about close contact – a form of intimate, close-up bodily looking. In order to combine these two modes of looking I decided to work with white charcoal on thick layers of blackboard paint.
I first splattered the sheets of white paper with large drips of paint. I then folded the sheets both vertically and horizontally to create something shapes that Rorscharch patterns. These surface marks would constantly remind me of my own relationship to the subject matter of the work and its meaningful interpretation. On another level the thick blobs of paint itself is for me suggestive of the skin of an elephant – with the fragile drawn, white lines forming something like the boney armiture that holds it together. Moreover, I was careful not to overwork the drawings as I wanted the fragility of the image, its relative ‘lightness’, to retain its intrigue. These works suggest something like an impression, a fleeting presence captured in the moment.
Personally, I enjoy the fact that even as the image seems to represent the skull (or highly specific areas of it), from up close the liveliness of the surface still calls one closer. In this way the viewer of the artwork may also experience the different forms of looking that ultimately formed the crux of my artistic engagement with the elephant skull.