Interview with Dagmara Genda

Line Gallery:  Why do you think you came to focus on drawing as opposed to another medium?

Dagmara Genda: Drawing has been a constant for me ever since I was a child. I think it was never overshadowed by other interests because, being from Poland, there was a language barrier that limited my ability to make friends and learn. My family and I emigrated in 1985 and we didn’t know one word of English. I took longer to learn the language than other children, or at least I’m under the impression that I did, because we spoke exclusively Polish at home. At school, rather than interacting with other people, and learning to read and write, I would just draw. It was a kind of escape from the sheer incomprehensibility of my surroundings. Upon entering art school I experimented with other forms of art, often trying to choose the best medium to explore a given idea, but drawing always resurfaced as my go-to form. It has a connection to childhood, to immediacy, simplicity but also, through the medium of illustration, a highly complex and mediated language. It’s contradictory and therein lies its power.

My art practice as such, I’d say, began in grad school when I was in between places to live. I spent all my time in the studio but didn’t want to make art anymore. Instead I’d trace the splatters of paint left on my wall from a performative video I had made. At the end of the summer, the paint on the wall was traced to form an intricate mural that was very compelling to me. It connected to that prelinguistic impulse when I was first in Canada as well as to various cultural modes of mark-making which in themselves are their own vocabulary. I decided that was going to be what I did from then on.


LG: How does your own life experience and cultural background contribute to, or influence your work? Where do you draw inspiration from?

DG: Inspiration is a funny word. It implies a sudden impulse to create, or in the Judeo-Christian sense, an influence from God. I’ve been working too long to have my ideas come from inspiration. It is not sudden in the slightest nor do I get eureka moments. It is a process of labour that evolves from a step-by-step process and builds on itself. It’s profoundly boring and unromantic.

That being said, my life experience and background certainly influence my work. In some ways that’s a platitude. In my case the notion of identity is particularly important, not only national identity, but also ontological identity. How do we come to identify something as being what it is? What does it mean that something is identified in a certain way and can that change? Being Polish and Canadian, as well as a kind of foreigner to both identities, I feel as if I am keenly aware of the performative nature of identity and of the self. As such I try to rupture various tropes in my drawings, such as Polish architecture or Canadian art history, so as to see them in a new light.


Interview with Mathew Borrett

Line Gallery: How does your own life experience contribute to, or influence, your work? Where do you draw inspiration from?

Mathew Borrett: I grew up in a rural environment, with not a lot of other kids around. We had some woods on the property which bordered on a marsh inhabited by beaver. Of course this made for a wonderful playground. We had a big old timber barn built in 1899. I didn’t fully appreciate how lucky I was to grow up living in such a setting. The only thing was I’m allergic to horses and hay and whatnot, and there was plenty of that around. This meant that during allergy season I would take refuge in my room, safe from pollen and dander and other sniffly stuff.  I couldn’t resist building the odd hay-bale fort, but I didn’t have the self-control to resist rubbing my itchy eyes, which resulted in having to go sooth them with a cold cloth, hay-fort abandoned (these were often elaborate, multi-storied hay-bale forts).

Thankfully my grandmother had supplied me with a large pile of lego over the years. I even had some hand-me-down lego from the 60’s with faded colours and warped plastic. I think I can still remember a rough inventory of all my lego even now. I had it all systematically organized. I built lots of castles and spaceships and sometimes robots. A couple of times I was so proud of my creation that I would grab a pad of graph paper and some markers to draw instructions for how to build it again.

When I wasn’t doing that I would spend a lot of time on my commodore 64, playing video games and making art with it. I was always drawing or building something, exploring the woods, or playing in the barn. Idyllic circumstances to develop my creativity.

Another major source of inspiration is that I have a highly active dream life. At times, I’ve felt like I inhabit a dream world as vast as the physical world around us. In addition to the real house I grew up in, there were countless dream version of that house, some of which were bigger and fancier, and many others that were in some state of ruin. Often there were basements below the basement.


Interview with Lucie Chan

Line Gallery: Why do you think you came to focus on drawing as opposed to another medium?

Lucie Chan: I chose it because it doesn’t come with hardware, machinery and you can generally do it anywhere, it’s economical, it can be anything, and people are always eventually moving onto other media and end up giving away their drawing supplies.


LG: Why do you think drawing is important in contemporary art or as a practice?

LC: My question is: Is drawing important?? (in contemporary art). I like that there are movements that are carried on from history or won’t go away and are still changing, repeating itself, raising questions about why people still do it. Drawing as a practice has slowed down how I look at things and reflect on them. It has made me more of an observant human being.


Interview with Daphne Gerou

Line Gallery: Why do you think you came to focus on drawing as opposed to another medium?

Daphne Gerou:
To be honest I started out painting. First with oils, then later on I gravitated towards water media, using a combination of inks and acrylics on paper. At this stage my work was very much like drawing except that I was using wet media rather than dry. Once I had finished art school, I kept working this way for a couple of years, and even though I was producing some good work, work that I was relatively happy with at least, it was always a bit of a struggle. I was never fully comfortable with the medium, and one day in the studio I just got fed up and started a pencil drawing to distract myself. I ended up working on this drawing for several hours and it was like a weight lifting off my back. When the drawing was complete, I drew several more in the same vein, and started to develop the graphite technique that I am still using today. I haven’t entirely abandoned the idea of painting, but since that day, probably around nine years ago now, drawing has been my primary focus. It’s always challenging, but it is also where I am most at ease.


LG: Why do you think drawing is important in contemporary art or as a practice?

DG: If we think back to early societies, the small-scale tribal and village societies that is, mark-making is probably the first form of human creative expression. The motivation may have been a spiritual one; for instance, the replication of animals, of hunting, of bounty, was likely a means to ensure good fortune for the group. Regardless of motivation though, people have been drawing from very early on, whether using sticks to draw in wet clay or applying soot to the walls of a cave. Written language, one of the most important developments of any early society, is also drawing. In fact, outside of the Roman and Cyrillic alphabets, many cultures use pictures to communicate words or thoughts. Hieroglyphs are the best example, but there are many others, including the alphabet of modern China. Once painting began to develop in the Western world, drawing appears to have taken a back seat for awhile. Although artists were still drawing, these works were rarely presented as ‘finished’ pieces. They were practice pieces, sketches and thumbnails prepared for the subsequent completion of a painting.

Skipping over the mid twentieth century, the Modernist artists inadvertently turned painting into the pinnacle of artistic expression. Since that time, painting has continued to dominate the overall art market, while new media, installations and site specific sculpture have found their way into museums as representatives of contemporary art. Drawing, on the other hand, remains a somewhat peripheral practice, which is odd since most artists draw at one time or another. In the past decade I’ve noticed that every so often drawing becomes very popular, with galleries focusing specifically on showing drawings and other works on paper. Unfortunately, these tend to be the passing trends of a fickle art market. This is why it is important for artists to continue promoting that drawing is a medium of no less importance than any other. We’ve never really stopped drawing as a whole, it just got downgraded to a ‘lesser’ medium over time. This downgrade can actually be traced back to the Renaissance but that’s a thesis in itself so I’ll leave it at that.


Interview with Sarah Kernohan

Line Gallery:  Your work at times has hovered between drawing and painting, but seems to have settled into mainly drawing at this point. Why do you think drawing is a practice that interests you?

Sarah Kernohan: Drawing has been central to my practice from the very beginning, and when I hover into the territory of painting I am using colour to enhance the drawing. When I paint I use highly diluted watercolours and thinned oil paints. My investment in drawing is based on my interest in line, which in my opinion is central to drawing. I am interested in working on paper, using drawing media as well – pens, pencils – and using paints as flat media.


LG: Your process of developing a drawing is quite involved. Can you speak about your approach and process when making a drawing?

SK: When I set out to make a drawing – for some reason, I can’t start off by saying that I am going to make a drawing of that object. I stall by doing studies – generally in the dozens – generally fast sketches that take about anywhere between 5 minutes and an hour to complete. I do these to get a sense of what I am working with, but also to determine what I am gravitating toward. All of the objects that I work with have unique surfaces and texture, which can be overwhelming at first. This helps to narrow my focus.

I take these drawings, and sometimes photocopy them and rip them up, looking to see what forms line up – and how I can abstract the object that I am working with. Because I am rarely looking at my subject matter from a single perspective point, I am able to look at how different parts of an object have an influence on an adjacent area. I then take these collages that are usually between 5 and 7 layers deep, and dismantle them, transferring this information to my drawing surface. This process usually takes the most time – and I find it quite relaxing. This is where I start to see where the accumulation of detail has taken place, and how element overlap.

In the case of the drawings that were presented in Field, I was drawn to the extremely weathered surfaces of the shells that I was working with. – They also reminded me of images that I had seen of glaciers from above. I was also attracted to the underside of the shells, which were smooth and polished. I wanted to develop a one-to-one – looking at how the forms on the underbelly influenced the surface detail – so I approached the drawing twice – once from underneath, and once again from the top. To obscure the bottom layer, I coated it with a thin layer of gesso, then drew directly over top of it.

I use different thicknesses of line to finish the drawings – establishing different spatial relationships. Occasionally I use watercolour to highlight low-lying areas, to push those features back in space.



Interview with Erik Jerezano

Line Gallery: Why do you think you came to focus on drawing as opposed to another medium?

Erik Jerezano: I wanted to be a painter for many years and I tried hard, maybe too hard. With painting I felt that for some reason I never could explore my ideas in the depth that I wanted to. Gradually drawing took over painting once I realized its immediacy, simplicity, spontaneous gestures and flow of ideas that lead me to start building a personal mythology.


LG: How do you begin a drawing? What is your working process like?

EJ: I usually don’t put any previous thought; I don’t have any preconceived idea of what I want to do. The works emerge from the abstract/organic random shapes and slowly develop into anthropomorphic figures that build a non-linear narrative, in this process I attempt to extract images from my memory to modify and reinterpret in a subconscious way, being more alert to the progression of the idea than a final result. It is like setting traps to let my inner self speak or draw in this case.



Interview with Aleks Bartosik

Line Gallery: Why do you think drawing is important in contemporary art or as a practice?

Aleks Bartosik: I think that drawing has always been important in art and art criticism; however, drawing was never really viewed as a finished or complete ‘work of art’ until recently. Drawings show so much about the artist and the rawness of that artist simply by the technique’s simplicity. Drawing has existed forever as a means of communication, and I think this still exists and is essential.


LG: There are a few works that we have included in the exhibition that walk a very close line to being seen as paintings. Can you say a little about where that line is between painting and drawing for you? Do you see them as different practices? Does drawing offer different outcomes or possibilities? How do you define the differences between drawing and painting?

AB: There is no line between painting and drawing for me. I view both mediums as equal, or more importantly, as co-existing with one another to make complete thoughts. I can’t help but mix both practices on my surfaces that I work on. There is a sense of completeness in a painting for me even if there is still a skeletal under-drawing visible, or there are drawing elements worked into that painting as I create it. The same occurs when I make drawings, they feel incomplete if there is no paint present in them. Since both mediums exist only when they co-exist, then it is hard to say that one is more important than the other. However, it is true that there are different outcomes and possibilities between a work of art that is dominantly a drawing and a work of art that is dominantly a painting; that is depending on the choice of the surface on which I work on. The difference between working on canvas and on paper creates that opportunity for different outcomes and possibilities for a work of art.


Interview with Liv Bonli

Line Gallery: Why do you think you came to focus on drawing as opposed to another medium?

Liv Bonli: I’ve always drawn — as far back as I can remember.  I was a kid with pencils.   Drawing has been a constant in my practice, and informs my thinking about work in other mediums as well. Beyond that, however, I’m drawn to its simplicity and versatility.  Drawing is something that can be done almost anywhere and that you can take with you. It’s also extremely relatable: most people have experience with drawing. You can be dealing with very complex or very simple ideas, and there is always a point of entry for the viewer.


LG:  Are there any artists or experiences that have shaped/influenced your practice?

LB: I’ve been lucky to benefit from the instruction and mentorship of Alison Norlen and Patrick Traer during my time at the University of Saskatchewan, and David Merritt during my graduate studies at the University of Western Ontario.   I was an undergraduate when I first realized that drawing could be a focus in its own right. That was important.

Interview with Katie Belcher

Line Gallery:  Why do you think you came to focus on drawing as opposed to another medium?

Katie Belcher:  I came into drawing as my medium quite reluctantly. I had always associated drawing with sketching or illustration. I thought it was tight and limited. It was my first drawing teacher, Susan Wood, who changed that for me. She encouraged me to use loose media (both dry and wet) and to work on quality paper at a much larger size. I learned to persist with one drawing, layering and reworking it until it was fully realized. With that change in process, I fell completely in love with drawing. It is energetic, raw and immediate. I pursued drawing through my studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, but also continued to work in sculpture. Outside of school, I’ve found drawing to be more practical than sculpture in terms of space, cost, and storage. I still perceive three dimensionally however, which is likely why I draw reductively. I find that my process of drawing satisfies the parts of me that still love sculpture.


LG:  Why do you think drawing is important in contemporary art or as a practice?

KB:  Drawing is a medium unlike any other. It can be very current, or historical. It can straddle both of those definitions, as I intend my own work to do. Drawings are the beginning to all other art forms, and yet, they can stand on their own as completed works. To me, one of the richest qualities of drawing is that it is free from the condition of being “finished”. A drawing always holds within it the possibility of being erased, or added to, and as such is limitless.

Interview with Robert Malinowski

Line Gallery: Why do you think you came to focus on drawing as opposed to another medium?

Robert Malinowski: I remember thinking about writers and their craft.  I envisioned them making notes, laying out a draft, all with a pencil and paper.  (Setting aside the thought that a computer might be the preferred tool of choice.)  I marveled at the though that it was so immediate.  Thought to paper, the idea materialized in quick and easy strokes.  I related drawing to the same immediacy. With a simple pencil and paper what could I accomplish? From there, my relationship with drawing, and its challenges, moved forward.


LG: Are there any artists or experiences that have shaped/influenced your practice?

RM: I was moved by Norval Morrisseau drawings that were exhibited at the Drawing Center in New York.  Not only was I moved by the work itself but also by the fact that they were works done while he was in prison during 1972/73.   Again I thought about the artist, the pencil and paper.   I enjoy the works of Parr, an Inuit artist born on Baffin Island in 1893.  He was a hunter turned artist; all I can simply say here is “so much with so little”.   This brings to mind some of the works of John Scott, which I guess you could consider drawings.  The particular works I think about were sometimes made on seemingly non-archival surfaces with Varsol and oil stick, simple bold gestures but the stories can go on forever even though the physical piece itself may not.