Giacometti is one of my favorite artists. I find both his sculpture and his drawings an inspiration. I first discovered Giacometti through his sculpture. I liked the tactile quality of his work and his elongated forms which, for me, possess a haunting elegance.
It was on a visit to Barcelona that I got the opportunity to see his work up close and it is there that I became really engaged with is drawings. You could see a direct correlation between his drawings and his sculpture. His use of line is intriguing – you want to reach in and pick up his sketches and start to bend and extrude them. He uses the drawing process almost like a model making phase. Giacometti works and works into the paper – exploring and developing form in a continual state of exploration.
Giacometti’s portraits also have that sense of depth of exploration – working the line over and over again into the paper. Almost like he is using line to go deeper and deeper to try and capture the real soul of the subject.
Another key aspect of Giacometti’s work is the range of techniques he employs. Wash, smudging and swift drawing using quite soft materials like charcoal, Conte crayon as well as ink and straight pencil. There is a very delicate, fleeting aspect to the drawing above. Its as if the figure is shimmering in the distance on a baking hot day – it could disappear at any moment.
The portrait above is actually a painting but still that strong drawing style of Giacometti’s punches through. Its a very ‘constructed’ work in so much as you can see this image forming the basis of another sculpture as well as existing as a painting in its own right. Giacometti, in my opinion, uses the drawing and painting process as a vehicle for his sculpture.
I love the way he works into his paintings and drawings without over cooking them. Despite Giacometti’s working and reworking of line and tone none of his outcomes look labored and muddy. The freshness and dynamism of his work is always present.
I would not remotely, for one single second, ever be arrogant enough to be considered in Giacometti’s class as far as drawing is concerned but I do never-the-less identify with his style. I have wrestled with this for sometime because my drawings do possess some bad habits – however, similar to Giacometti, I see the drawing process and line as a tool to dig deeper and deeper into the drawing. Sometimes that may mean reworking the line – hence the tram-lining habit I an acutely aware of.
I think it would make sense for me to explore his style more – find out what works and see how I can employ the positives within my own searching style of drawing.
Toby Harris November 23, 2016
Posted In: Artists Profiles