Drawing Lines

By: Martin Genodepa

DRAWING is basically the manipulation of lines on a surface to create figures from life or represent concepts in abstract forms. From drawing, paintings and sculpture and prints may eventually emerge. As such, drawing is referred to as the progenitor, if not the soul, of the all visual arts.

But even if no painting or sculpture may ensue from it, drawings has qualities that make it unique as a visual art form. Drawing as an end product offers one of the widest possibilities for artistic expression and lends itself very well to the artist’s spontaneity.

An artist’s talent may be measured in terms of the quality of his or her drawings. It was said that the Italian painter Giotto could draw a perfect circle without the aid of a compass. The drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo give insights into the workings of their minds in terms of ideas and design.

The bulk of the drawings in the UPV art collection are by National Artist Jose Joya. Joya was primarily a non-objective painter but he drew relentlessly. He was able to publish two books of his drawings in the 1970s.

Joya was instrumental in rekindling the art of drawing among Ilonggo artists. In May 1975, he held an art workshop in UPV (then UP College Iloilo). The participants had live drawing sessions. Many artists, not long after, also engaged in drawing landscapes and figures. Joya’ drawings are interesting character and studies that bare psychological states.

Ilongga artist Nelfa Querubin, more known as a ceramist, started her art career as a printmaker and abstract painter. Her drawings reveal her partiality towards abstraction as well as her sensitivity to her environment.

Choosing the two artists is deliberate. Joya catalyzed the formation of the groundbreaking Ilonggo artist group Hubon Madiaas which Querubin joined. Their works together, once more, raise perennial questions about art and drawing: Does art distinguish gender? Does the size of the artwork matter? What art element is important in drawing? Should a piece of drawing be realistic or an exact representation of the subject to be called art?

Obviously, the drawings in the recent exhibition Drawing Lines at the GCE Building Lobby of UP Visayas, Iloilo City provided some answers to these questions.

Joya, despite being male, has more graceful figures associated with femininity because his lines are more fluid. His portraits have a delicate air about them. Querubin’s femaleness is negated by her drawings as she figures are more robust and highly dynamic. The intensity of her fine pen and ink-created lines suggest intentionality and determinism which are deemed as male characteristics.

Although drawings may be large, most drawings are small. But unlike in paintings, size in drawing does not matter much and contributes little to the total meaning of the artwork. What are important in drawings are how things are represented and how space is utilized in the pictorial field. Joya’s drawings of people fill the space as if saying the human subject is the measure of all things so to speak. Querubin composes her drawings with a lot of breathing spaces as if suggesting these were done to essentially capture the gist or fleeting moments and scenes.

That lines and shadows or value are crucial in drawing as exemplified by these two artists’ works speak of drawing’s priority – definitive representation of objective or non-objective subject.

Regardless of these explanations, one thing is certain: in drawings, lines imitate life to take on lives of their own.

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