Thinking of the body…
…I knew almost immediately with this project I wanted to explore how I could incorporate illustration back into my work. I had a number of ideas - drawing the body, drawing onto negatives, and drawing onto the body itself. I decided the best starting point was to work from text, whether it was something original or an existing piece.
Seeing as the canvas I was working on would be a human body, I wanted the text to be relevant somehow - whether it was anatomical, erotic or describing a relationship or feelings, I wanted it to be thematically to do with a body or bodies.
This semester I have begun to explore narrative in both my projects, and in this case decided to work with an extract from “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin. The blurb reads:
“David, a young American in 1950s Paris, is waiting for his fiancee to return from vacation in Spain. But when he meets Giovanni, a handsome Italian barman, the two men are drawn into an intense affair. After three months David’s fiancee returns, and, denying his true nature, David rejects Giovanni for a ‘safe’ future as a married man. His decision eventually brings tragedy.”
“Full of passion, regret and longing this story of a fated love triangle has become a landmark in gay writing, but its appeal is broader. James Baldwin caused outrage as a black author writing about a white homosexual, yet for him the issues of race, sexuality and personal freedom were eternally intertwined”
The extract I selected describes a memory of Davids first romantic encounter with another male from his youth. The passage is beautifully descriptive and recounts the transition of his thought process in detail from passion and comfort to regret, denial and self loathing.
I also revisited a book I bought many years ago, “The Nakeds”, which was a catalogue from an exhibition of the same name at the De La Warr Pavilion in East Sussex. There is a forward which explores the nude and human form within art, as well as the curated selection of images from the exhibition. As a prompt for thinking about how I am going to work with depicting the body in my own work I found this a useful reference material.