NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2013 - Page 137

m Throop Venus #3, 2011 Charcoal, pastel, acrylic emulsion, and ink on paper 60 “ x 42” dc: This woman I met in Nigeria, she was like a younger version of my grandmother. dc: I create landscapes with real people who happen to be women. rm: So when you have a woman in your drawings, like in this series of drawings you did in a studio in Brooklyn, you invite in models to pose and to be manipulated by you to capture impressions of them on the paper, these are not figurative drawings, this is not life class figuration, this is more about shadowy presence, silhouettes, outlines, impressions of their passing by, their moving in and out of your mind. I struggled to get a hold of the sense of where the models are in these drawings, I’m not sure I have yet, it’s modern, but with some spirit in it, for example, in RMH #1, Throop Venus #1, and Throop Venus #3. dc: You got it. rm: Traditional culture, you have that pervasive spirit, a woman. And then every other woman is a reflection of her. The same thing happens in life: attraction to women is free-floating in a curious way, it can happen that every woman you meet is a reflection of someone who touched your life earlier in life, and of course psychologists are always relating the women men have relationships with to their mothers, it’s that idea again. BRN-FALL-2013.indb 135 rm: This is what happens. dc: I looked at her, it was like I was talking to my grandmother. I think she sensed that I was interested in her as a young man might be so I think she introduced me to the spiritual things to protect herself and us against that, which I didn’t mind, she was beautiful, but I really saw her as my grandmother. rm: I get the sense that the same thing is going on in your figures, some kind of spirit is moving through, and all the figures manifest it in different ways, they are reminders or echoes. You trace around them as they moved across the paper. You are having a conversation with this female spirit, taking form in this particular model, at that moment. dc: As the model stood, and moved, at the paper, I made the marks. I’ve worked with models for years. And after doing it for so long, the exercise changes. Even though you put the model in front of you, she is only a reminder of things you already know, you know human anatomy, when a person flexes this muscle, you know the parts that are affected, and what you need to show, so the particular model is just a reminder of something that works, she moves, you draw. Then, you do not necessarily know this person, but, she is also something you already know, a human being, you want to capture something that is the essence of this person, I came up with this technique. rm: I would think that your technique of tearing up paper and using it in a collage like way supports this feeling. Jacob’s ladder is an impressive drawing. There is potential in it for a lot of different readings. It is based on the traditional bible story, I’ve sensed over the years that story means different things to different Christians. dc: It started out as being about the traditional bible story, about brothers, birthright, exile, the desert, and then having a dream of a ladder. I ended up just focusing on the ladder. In the story, angels are going up and down that ladder, and heaven is at the top. It was a nice metaphor, in life you find yourself going up and down the ladder all the time, sometimes you are on top, successful, other times, not so much. I decided that I wanted it to have a dreamlike floating feeling, it’s the ladder of success, but even that is a dream, it’s uncertain, mysterious. So I took some cream white paper and tore it into pieces and fashioned a semblance of a ladder, to give it that floating feeling of uncertain step. When I was coming up as an artist in the 1960s, my mentor was artist Donald Locke. At that time, he was working on some paintings based on the Timehri images of the Amerindians, the indigenous people of Guyana. These paintings were based on cave paintings, and to get that effect he was cutting out canvas and pasting it on other canvas, and doing that over and over again to build up the surface. I was very young, he took me under his wing. Later on, I discovered that this idea had stayed with me, and it came back to me, and I used it, he cut things up, I tore things up. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE rm: So you reject apotropaic intent too, but it sounds like in this particular situation we have a Lexus sitting in the middle of an olive grove! You’re relationship to all that is actually much more complicated than I envisioned. 135 m Throop Venus #1, 2011 Charcoal, pastel, acrylic emulsion, and ink on paper 59” x 72” 9/13/13 12:48 AM