Bento’s Sketchbook: John Berger on Drawing

sketch 1

[I was going through some old drafts of posts-never-completed this morning and decided to delete the ones I’ll never get back to. Others, like this one are just collections of quotes that never got turned into anything. Nevertheless they might be useful someday so I’ve decided to just post them as-is]

“At first you question…in order to discover lines, shapes, tones that you can take on the paper. The drawing accumulates the answers. Also, of course, it accumulate corrections, after further questioning of the first answers. Drawing is correcting” (8).

“At a certain moment—if you’re lucky—the accumulation become an image—that’s to say it stops being a heap of sign and becomes a presence” (8).

“We who draw do so not only to make something visible to others, but also to accompany something invisible to is incalculable destination” (9).

“People hold books in a special way—like he hold nothing else. They hold them not lie inanimate things but like ones that have gone to sleep. Children often carry toys in the same manner” (83).

“What I’m trying to define is more idiosyncratic an personal that a mere cultural inheritance; it is as if the bloodstream of the read story joins the bloodstream of one’s life story. It contributes to our becoming what we become and will continue to become” (84).

“There are two categories of storytelling. Those that treat of the invisible and the hidden, and those that expose and offer the revealed” (86).

“The act of drawing. Any fixed contour is in nature arbitrary and impermanent. What is on either side of it tries to shift it by pushing or pulling. What’s on one side of a contour has got its tongue in the mouth of what’s on the other side. And vice versa. The challenge of drawing is to show this, to make visible on the paper or drawing surface not only discrete, recognizable things, but also to show how the extensive is one substance. And, being one substance, it harasses the act of drawing. If the lines of a drawing don’t convey the harassment the drawing remains a mere sign” (113).

“When I’m drawing—and here drawing is very different from writing or reasoning—I have the impression at certain moments of participating in something like a visceral function, such as digestion or sweating, a function that is independent of the conscious will. This impression is exaggerated, but the practice or pursuit of drawing touches, or is touched by, something prototypical and anterior to logical reasoning” (149).

“Drawing is anyway an exercise in orientation and as such may be compared with other processes of orientation which take place in nature” (149).

“Drawing is a form of probing. And the first generic impulse to draw derives from the human need to search, to plot points, to place things and to place oneself” (150).

“Of course, every drawing has its own raison d’être and hopes to be unique. For every drawing we start, we have a distinct and different hope. And every drawing fails in its own unforeseeable and particular way. Nevertheless every drawing begins with a similar movement of the imagination (151).

“There is a symbiotic desire to get close and closer, to enter the self of what is being drawn, and, simultaneously, there is the foreknowledge of immanent distance. Such drawings aspire to be both a secret rendezvous and an au revoir! Alternately and ad infinitum” (156).

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