Sketching Concepts. a Tribute.
Some years ago, doing the editorial coordination for a great exhibition of Santiago Calatrava in Cultural Centre of Belém in Lisbon, I got in hands by the architect a massive pile of his sketches. Needless to say that I was fully amazed. You’re used to see final works from architects, painters, sculptures, and photographers, but most of the time we don’t have the idea on how it all started.
I remember to see the communication tower Calatrava did in Barcelona before and after I see the whole set of sketches he did for it, from the very beginning of a man communicating – embracing, till the last drawings. It can change completely the perception or reading of it. Next time you’ll see the communication tower in Barcelona, try to imagine a man embracing. You will see it easily.
Some art photographers just let it go, some of us don’t need sketches, some others do. I’ve been a sketcher all my life, like a keep-in-mind-before-it-goes. I have several traveller’s journals that I did in Africa and Asia; as I usually do in all my trips, most of them full of sketches instead of taking photographs. They’re lost somewhere, between Barcelona, South of Spain, Lisbon and Paris; with all my moves these last few years, my sketchbooks are somewhere on Earth.
Usually, an artist sketch is just that: a memo of a concept or an idea. Most of the times the final work comes out completely different in composition. And most of the times the sketches-memos are terrible examples of drawings, also because they’re just silly sketches for us own, that nobody will understand. Kind of coded.
Searching and talking with some photographers to write an article here about sketching concepts, I realised that most of us don’t sketch, and some others might not be comfortable showing them, as the sketches can be very personal. I’m not talking about drawing over photography, like sometimes I do, as Jean Cocteau did and Roger Ballen also does. Roger Ballen also draws to photograph. We will leave those for later. Or for another note here.
I must say that I was not very lucky trying to get sketches from photographers, apart from few of them from Misha Gordin, so I decided to leave this “notes on photographers’ sketchings” for later, and with time needed I could do something deeper and with more visual work. I closed the document and folder that I called “The Sketchers in Photography”. Peter Greenaway has also magnificent sketches for the storyboards of his movies. Yes, I need more time to sketch this “notes”. Folder closed. Or in stand by.
I rolled a cigarette and went to see the snow falling with the window opened, and that’s when I got a flash. Since some time ago that I wanted to write or do a tribute to a person I admired a lot by her courage, braveness and raw honesty. Also, by her magnificent talent as photographer. I immediately went to my emails accounts to check where were the emails that we’ve exchanged few years ago.
I’m talking about Lauren E. Simonutti:
Lauren was born in 1968, and after some years battling strongly and hardly against her illness, she died last year. Her death had a tremendous impact on me, especially after talking with her about everything and life through these last years. How she bravely fought against the gods and evils, to be able to keep creating at her basement where she lived, part of the time “roped to bed” and the rest creating in her studio and lab in the same basement. She was a tremendous example of survivor. Of creator. Of power, will and strength.
I immediately opened again the folder I had for the sketchers to do a one-woman show:
“I seldom sketch as I seldom leave my house/studio and am generally in the vicinity of my darkroom & gear to shoot as the idea occurs to me.
However when I am away I have a small sketchbook on which to try to get the kernel of the idea down before it escapes me.
Thing is, I cannot draw.” Lauren E. Simonutti
“Madness strips things down to their core. It takes everything and in exchange offers only more madness, and the occasional ability to see things that are not there.” from Lauren Simonutti’s bio/statement
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