Grids, an Experiment

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

I've been thinking a lot about grids. I started using them in 2019 for preparatory drawing when making my portraits, but didn't incorporate them more openly in my final drawings until late 2020.

In April 2021, fellow Houstonian and artist Francis Almandarez told me he was more drawn to idea of the contour drawings underlying the portraits than in the portraits themselves.

This struck a chord with me. I felt he was on to something. I stewed on the idea for a few weeks, then made a few experiments: Unmasked (Grid, ), Unmasked (Grid, Yellow), and Unmasked (Grid, Green).

Francis was right. There's something powerful in these expressive, sparse portrayals, but something sinister too. The grid becomes a cage, the flesh removed to a bare skull. The figure is unfinished, raw, restrained by the sterile, analytical, computational bars and wires holding it up, yet holding it down.

The drawing is now more about the information comprising the figure than the figure itself. It calls to mind the A.I. facial recognition techniques used by surveillance systems with increasing frequency worldwide.

These drawings call into question the nature of "representation" in the 21st century. This is a direction I will be mining more deeply in coming months.