26 Oct 21 by justatest
Antonio has form with these last minute invitations [LINK] however this occasion´s request of one drawing is much less demanding.
There´s no theme for the show; ¨Tema Libero¨ as they say in Italian.
The only additions in the end were the URL of this webpage, a QRcode (pointing to this webpage), a signature, and date. Then once folded and packaged, it was despatched by priority post.
The exhibition opened, but unfortunately the drawing was not included as the organizer told me it had been lost in the post!
I contacted the Italian Postal Service and they said it had been delivered.
Well, it couldn´t be that the drawing had been delivered, and despite the earlier endorsements of museum staff, artstore owners, gallerists and critics, it was the artists themselves who censored it by pretending the drawing had never arrived... could it?
The Art Critic
The final act before sending the drawing off to be exhibited was to show it to the celebrated Italian contemporary art critic and professor of Art Philosophy And Theory, Angelo Capasso. I had been reading his latest book (a controversial treatise on the need to break out of the infinite loop of work based on the Duchampian readymade; original in english) entitled Sortir Du Champ Art Criticism Outside the Ready Media which I found engaging and (unusual for a work of criticism) accessible, and decided to try contact him. He turned out to be quite amiable so I met him after one of his morning lectures at the university La Sapienza School Of Architecture for coffee and he very kindly agreed to be photographed with the drawing.
Shortly after arrival in the city for the first time as a young artist, I ran low on money and was sleeping rough on the streets (it was early summer so the weather was good and it was not such a huge problem).
I´ll never forget Il Maestro Memmo, and Nando of Ditta Poggi art supplies, the best shop in Rome, who treated all their artist clients (including me, who at that time knew no Italian) with respect and more importantly, gave deep discounts for those less able to arrive at the full price of their excellent merchandise.
I have the greatest respect for these gentlemen, and were I given the constraint of only one place in Rome to bring the drawing, without doubt it would not be to the fabulous museums nor the majestic ancient monuments, but to this one place of importance during my years there - Ditta Poggi.
Graveyard of art
November 1, il giorno dei morti (the day of the dead).
The drawing pays a visit, as a mark of respect, to the cemetery of old art. This solemn occasion adds to the sense of foreboding for it´s own future - is it also destined to be cast carelessly into the pit of unwanted works?
So typically Italian to be greeted with a warm autumnal evening, voices chattering, and to be driven away in a little Fiat 500.
Aldo, from Formia, I met on the flight and we chatted to pass the time. At one point, I took out the drawing and laid it out for the photo. He asked what I was doing and looked at me like I was a little crazy as I presented to him the drawing´s merits. He reckoned the show organizers will never accept it as a valid entry for the exhibition. Next, we got talking about it´s worth, and quickly arrived at the discussion of monetary worth. I said I wasn´t sure if they were actually selling the exhibits at the show, but if the were, then a nice roundy figure like 5,000 seems a good asking price to me. Again he looked at me, this time as if I were completely gone with the fairies, but nevertheless suggested that the asking price shouldn´t be an even 5k but better as 4,890. People will respect it more at that price, he maintained. My retort to that was I didn´t want to go below the 5k that seemed such a wholesome number, to which he countered then ask for 5,890 - the important fact was the 890 at the end.
The upshot of this part of the conversation was that if they are indeed selling the works at the exhibition, then the the asking price for this drawing shall be 5890, which we agreed to mean 5 for me and 890 for Aldo.
Off to Italy
With some trepidation the drawing attends it´s flight. It knows that the Irish have no real interest in visual art; that their language of communication, i.e. their art is verbal - the poetry, the plays, the novels, and there´s also of course the plaintive music. It knows the Irish appreciation for visual art is only at a level (in trash literature equivalence) of Mills & Boon, and that judgement within that context, either positive or negative, means little in real terms and can be therefore discounted.
Italy however, is altogether another matter.
The cradle of western painting and sculpture, the masters of the renaissance, a deep understanding of the language of the visual is core to the Italian psyche.
About to embark on a plane to the historic centre of the art of the western world, it wonders if it is up to the task of proudly being a drawing before the all-knowing and expectant Italian gaze?
National Gallery of Ireland
Finally to end the Dublin sojourn, the crown jewel of visual art in Ireland - the National Gallery of Ireland; by far one of the most splendid buildings and fine collections presented with respect and good-humour that you´ll find in Europe.
So different from the austere reception earlier in the day at IMMA, Martin, an officer supervising the busy stream of onlookers, regaled me with the history of the origins of the building and the collection, and spoke knowledgeably on the works themselves. The staff in attendance at the gallery are assured, open and professional, with a patient readiness to inform a curious public. I told Martin about the drawing project. He checked this webpage to get a clearer idea of it´s scope and once convinced that there was no political content nor nefarious intention behind the action, allowed me take a photo of the drawing in the gallery.
Now for the big test. It´ll be at the Taylor Galleries which has long been the best contemporary private commercial exhibition space in the city. Luckily I meet Mr. Taylor outside to explain the purpose of the drawing. He looks at me a little incredulously but with a teeny smirk of humour then allows me take a photo of the drawing in his fantastic gallery. Even better, he agrees to be included in the photograph, and so here he is, a little dubious but giving it serious overview and allowing for the benefit of the doubt: if it claims to be a drawing, then let it be so.
Long reign to Taylor Galleries!
Next up was to bring the drawing to Kennedy´s - the best art supplies shop in Dublin - to discover the wonderful world of the finest materials and beautiful colour with which it might collaborate.
There I met the son of Mr. Kennedy senior, now retired, whom I remembered as a knowledgeable and kindly gentleman from my young art student days. His son was equally generous with his time as he listened to my description of the development of the drawing, and enthusiastically suggested it be given place on one of his easels for the photograph.
There´s a reason why Kennendy´s is onto it´s sixth generation of proud family ownership!
You Cannot Do That
Unfortunately the people at the Irish Museum of Modern Art were not very receptive to the drawing, and absolutely refused to let it be photographed in the environment of the show (in case I would then pretend that the drawing had participated in the exhibition). They´re a bit highly-strung in that place.
Anyway, I walked around and found a corner behind a video exhibit that appeared out of range of the numerous closed-circuit cameras and took a quick shot - just to prove that indeed it had participated in their precious exhibition (despite this not being, at any remove, the actual motive of the visit).
[Credits: works in background by Gilbert & George, Alan Phelan]
And so where else in Dublin do you bring an aspiring drawing but to the museum of modern art? It´s here where it should become apparent what is expected of it, and to let it feel the weight of that responsibility.
Arrival in the city
On the train
So the traveling begins with the evening train to Dublin.
Oven dried drawing
The journey to Rome seems to be becoming an important factor in the development of this drawing so before this traveling drawing sets off, I reckon it should first be firmly grounded here outside in the Irish countryside by absorbing the autumnal rains.
100 x 70 initial drawing
Maybe a combination of the two would be best?
So scrunched-up, then folded neatly, then unfolded doesn´t look too bad actually.
That´s what I decide to do.
Here I open out the two offcuts to see how they compare in appearance. If the world is to be divided into scrunched-up types and neatly-folded types, I´m definitely of the former, nevertheless I have to admit that the latter does have it´s attraction.
Scrunch or fold?
As I´ll be travelling cheapest budget airline Ryanair with just a small shoulder bag, I need to decide how the drawing is to travel. It needs to fit compactly in the bag as I can´t bring a roll-up drawing tube so do I scrunch it up or fold it neatly? I decide to experiment with two offcuts.
Not sure what type of drawing I´ll do, but by coincidence I unexpectedly (and reluctantly) have to travel to Rome for some weeks. So maybe I´ll start the drawing here in rural Ireland and take it along with me for completion over there?
Let´s begin with that then as the initial premise.