It is confusing and amusing to think that I have made small growing drawings for possibly over twenty years now. I always used the same kind of pen and a similar kind of ink and then I would place small circles somewhere on a piece of paper and then draw lines around those circles and connecting to those circles until there was an interesting shape or sometimes until the entire page was filled with some often strange patterns. The small drawings were not planned and I could not really predict them. They were like records of life forms or maybe messages from a parallel world. They had the look of impact waves or wooden rings, growth patterns, or perhaps rates of spread.
It took a long time to make these things and they were mostly locked inside of books or on small pieces of paper. I also drew some on Shikishi-paper.
I stopped drawing them mostly once I had to travel a lot and calm time at a table to make a growing drawing seemed like an unattainable luxury. Eventually I mostly turned to photography, as my experience of journeys and work around the world seemed beyond drawing and beyond words too.
Then, after moving to London, and after some time spent in one magical place near Hampstead Heath, contemplating the joys and anxieties of life, the drawings found me again. It was probably inevitable. But it took a lot for it to happen. More than I would like to describe.
The drawings returned. But this time they returned larger and colorful and with some incredible and unstoppable force. It felt as if a gateway had opened and now it was my duty to create the drawings. As they were some precious luxury before, now they had to be present and visible and clear.
In some ways they started again where I had left them; in books and on some small pieces of paper. But soon I needed larger sheets of paper and I had to paint on linen and canvas and larger and in new varieties. The energy is very alive right now. I have drawn several today and I will draw and paint a few more.
A curator friend in Singapore pointed out the connection of the drawings to Tantric spiritual paintings and also the obvious connection to some eastern calligraphy. I have to admit that they have in some ways been triggered by something akin to a spiritual experience, the awareness of the before and the after and the now. There is a lot in them and I think I might need to write much more to help create a better understanding of what is going on.
Am I drawing and painting these to arrive at a singular perfected message? Or are they many messages, pushing into our reality through me?
It feels like there are many. And we are just getting comfortable with each other.
In June of 2020 I then started a project I call 888 Beginnings. Here, the very first beginning of the drawing is all I leave it at. I note down some often very simple or maybe profound messages at the back that seem to arrive to me with the “beginning”. I keep repeating this and will keep repeating until I will arrive at 888 of them.
As I am writing this, I have drawn 150 “beginnings” over the last 148 days. That would make it one a day, but there is no such logic or predictability. The work has its own internal logic but that only intersects with what we see.
With many of the drawings I keep using the ink I mixed for them and then complete a larger drawing in just that same color. So they are often indeed beginnings of other drawings.
The little circles i started with decades ago have grown. Now they in some ways resemble Ensō, the Japanese mark of meditation, one breath, one deep connection to the larger and invisible energy that makes us.
And so all of the larger drawings are in some ways that too. Most of them are drawn from intuition and with muscle memory, in ways that are purposely left slightly unrefined.
We are in a time and place where machines and their ability to create some version of perfection is worshipped by most. While I do not refuse to use a mix of tools and devices, and while I do share some of my drawings on the web, I want to make the work by hand, sometimes crudely, but genuinely, as a messenger of whatever is helping me make these.
More to write about this. I might need to go back to my drawings.