Wednesday, 5 March 2014

"I wipe away the line"


What a treat to be in the company of Hans Bendix' drawings once again. Busy weeks making the final preparations for a book on the cartoonist Hans Bendix and his anti-nazi cartoons 1933-40, sending off the chapters to my publisher with not much time for anything else. 

Tarek Alghorani introduced me to the Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani, and these days I keep returning to his words:


"I conquer the world with words,
conquer the mother tongue,verbs,
nouns, syntax.
I sweep away the beginning of things
and with a new language
that has the music of water the message of fire
I light the coming age
and stop time in your eyes
and wipe away the line that separates
time from this single moment."

Not that drawing equates a language. Drawing seems to come from a more fundamental level of human life, but in the process of drawing the cartoonist constantly challenges the basic line to begin anew. In the quest to define the never before: The Now. 


Qabbani uses the image of creating through wiping away. In this case wiping away the line that separates us from presence, and it is the perfect image of what takes place in the artistic process. The line is a notion as well as a physical reality and by wiping away, the artist creates a presence on paper that the line separated us from by its being there. A constant process, a struggle even, not to wipe away too much so that The Now never emerges. The struggle of each new drawing.




Juan Zero, From the series Free Syria, August 19, 2012.



Juan Zero has taken the artistic struggle to the core of the struggle for freedom and from war in his country. A literal breaking of the line symbolizing the slaying of movement, of spirit, and of all that is thereby in danger of being lost. The very best thing of all is the flowing ease of his line with a density to it that lends such a physical presence to his drawings

No one but he could go all the way right now, this was drawn a year within the war:


Juan Zero, July 11, 2012.

The drawing brings to mind the lines from another great poet, T.S. Eliot, on the noise of silence unfolded in the music of his words... These are from the fifth stanza of his Ash-Wednesday:


"The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee."



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