Helena Almeida’s Drawing (with pigment) – Review In Context:

Drawing (with pigment) 1995-9 by Helena Almeida born 1934Helena Almeida’s “Drawing (with pigment)” drawn in a small series with charcoal or pastel and ink. Like most of her work, Almeida’s drawing depicts her own body, here specifically her hands as she draws, they are outlines of her physical movements and actions she undertakes in her studio. Almeida confessed a particular interest in her extremities as “We look at the body and see that it ends abruptly at the feet and hands. It finishes there. There’s nothing more- it’s like the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea.” The one particular image I prefer; is of both her hands on the top third of the page in simple, brief lines. The most complex area is the cloud of pastel in the open palm of one hand drawing a hair-thin line across to connect to her other hand holding the pen.

Where most of her work, if not all have some form of connection to her body: she claims “My work is my body, my body is my work.” Her main medias cover painting, photography and drawing although she persists with the idea of her body as “the canvas”, her ‘self –representation’ as a photograph of her wearing a canvas with her arms outstretched in the standard Christ position, looking down.

Although she did turn to three dimensional sketching with “Horsehair threads”, which she refers to as “drawing outwards”, she brought together her main three media including this form of drawing, in the 1975 as she experimented from “design to cinema, from paintings to comics, from photography to sculpture, from architecture to performance.”

Her creation and attitude towards the sense of self is complimentary to Stuart Brisley, most particularly in his “ZL636595c” which was a performance ZL636595c Gallery House London 1972 by Stuart Brisley born 1933piece where he sat alone without contact of information from radio/tv/books or human contact from 11AM 30th March 1972 until 7PM 15 April 1972. There are now a series of photographs depicting his time in the room, and a short review of the project by himself; where he quotes the oxford dictionary of the two phrases “exist” and “survive”. Where Brisley frames and singularises the self to bring out its extremes, Almeida focuses on the physical self, by including it in everything she does and making it the only thing that matters.

The “Drawing(with pigment)” draws your eye to the only relatable part of the image by making it the human hands, what they are doing is only a secondary observation, the ‘plane’ behind them is questionable as to whether it is the paper she drawing on or the boundaries of the drawing is currently making, i.e. the drawing itself. There are —- other drawing in the series with the same name: they are all of her hand s in varying poses as she draws, all done in ink. Although the use of pastel changes in each; one such use is the shadows of her hand, the paper, perhaps a media she is moulding, or its simply for creating her “drawing outwards” technique, other times the media in which she apparently working; holding blobs in her hands or having her hands coloured by it.

I chose this particular image because it was simple but eloquent and it covered the necessity to start somewhere when you draw.





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