Project description.

Charo Garaigorta


I started doing these drawings in New York, but the series has developed fundamentally over the last two years, which have been of crucial importance to me as they have involved a radical change in life from New York—where I lived for 14 years—to my ‘home’. I am now here and there, both physically and mentally. At first sight, the drawings seem to show one thing—hybrids between the animal and plant kingdoms—familiar forms that we can to some extent conceive of, yet a second look reveals something else, a woman with her arms wrapped around her body, she cannot move, she has been tied up. This woman’s body is repeated so often that it loses its identity, giving an impression that evolves to the opposite extreme: movement, speed and anonymity. We go from a tied immobile figure to another dynamic. There are other women/models playing different roles; they are not all tied up. I have also chosen the person, the human body, as a module for constructing the drawings “because sex is universal, it is a vital force, the simple reason why we are here”.[2]

At first, these drawings were very big, measuring two or three metres or more. I had a roll of Mylar on one side of the table and I would draw on metre after metre of it until I decided to cut it and so bring the drawing to an end. In a world as confusing as this, where the only thing that keeps us alive is doubt, it seemed interesting and even somewhat humorous to determine where to cut off the drawing and so decide on its end.

I am now working on the “airports” series, which is in turn made up of others: “go run!”, “time & fear” and “please think”. This idea arose when I came to Spain to live and had less time for my work. I travel a lot and my work in education is very absorbing. I have decided that I must in some way recycle all the moments of my days, whatever they were like, to draw on this experience and information for my drawings. These drawings are constructed using real plans and photographs of airports that I gather when I’m travelling. I manipulate them and transform them, turning them into imaginary constructions in which planes in human form take off and land, creating their own choreographies.

The importance of the ornament is deliberate. Ornaments make it possible to enter and exit different worlds. I’m thinking here of the dances in the Hollywood musicals of the 1940s, medieval Persian and Celtic manuscripts and in general the entire decorative tradition of the history of art, mixed with insights into the world of science. In all these instances, repetition works as a constructional aspect. I am interested in its conceptual aspect of repetition, of “keeping on going”, persistence as the artist’s driving force. What would we artists do if we weren’t so tenacious?

I see these drawings as being linked to the rest of my work, not so much at a formal level, but because they imply a way of reconnecting the formal idiosyncrasy of the sculptural elements of other works with a more graphic modelling, which is initially identifiable but which gets lost in a second reading in a sea of forms and references that interconnect very different worlds. The drawings are more cerebral; the sculptures, which are more physical, are an extension of the mind through space. The fever of personal euphoria in a world in which you have to constantly combine and recombine the personal with the ‘professional’, the form and function of individuals and the innate desire to take flight all the time. A highly subjective and personal question, but one that is wide open to being ‘translated’ into a common terrain that can be communicated beyond my experience, an experience permanently marked by this continuous flow between my identity as an artist, on the one hand, and my activity as an educator in a museum on the other.

An experience that is also marked by the intensity of the search implied by a change in place, living somewhere else, the desire to be a member of an open community, a hybrid in a city in constant flux such as New York, and the real and ever present awareness of one’s own self, being from the place you come from, of being Basque, with all the contradictions and mental and physical impulses that this generates in both my work and my life.

Drawing is for me a way of thinking and a way of observing myself while I’m thinking.

With the courtesy of Rekalde

[1] The title is taken from a song of the 50s by Edoardo Vianello,

[2] Allison Peters in Flesh and Fluids, ccs, Bard College, NY, 2001.