Wednesday, August 22, 2007


These pictures by illustrator Ashley Wood are a cross between drawing and knife fighting.

Wood is one of those artists whose drawings benefit from controlled accidents. His slashing lines and spattered ink are part skill, part chance and part hydrological experiment. When you work that way, you can't be too picky about your materials. The reverse side of the above drawing shows how some of Wood's more fortunate accidents take place on stray scraps of paper:

I like Wood's work. I like that he seems to draw on every available surface, from the backs of envelopes to waste paper, sometimes taping pages together when his experiment runs out of room.

I find his emphasis on telephone lines in these drawings worth noting for two reasons.

First, they show the importance of individual perception in composing an image. In most photographs, phone wires are so thin and insubstantial they don't even show up. In the following painting Edward Hopper ignores the phone wires:

They are almost never an important compositional element such as Wood has made them. It takes a human brain to fix upon a physically insignificant object and amplify and distort it into a major part of the drawing.

Second, Wood's awareness of the telephone lines reveals the sensitivity necessary to make a "spontaneous" style effective. Despite the vigorous, almost violent appearance of these drawings, it required a subtle eye to notice a detail like telephone lines and a thoughtful mind to play them up this way.