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A Rough Sketch: Initial Musings

20 October 2004 to 23 July 2005

Curated by Joselina Cruz

This exhibition was part of the multi-museum project entitled Zero-in Transitions. The exhibition featured works by Juan Luna, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Fernando Zobel, Carlos Botong Francisco and Vicente Manansala. It aimed to rekindle interest in drawing as skill important in the development of art and as a source of excellent works and experimentation by artists.

Rough Sketch: Initial Musings is a unique exploration of the most basic of skills in the fine arts – the birth of a drawing twinned with the beginning spark of inspiration. By engaging these two concepts, the exhibition seeks to understand the moment wherein an artist is engaged with or struck by an idea, a figure, a though, and yields this into reality. These initial sparks of thought are given form using the most immediate of materials, quickly: pencil on scraps of paper, ballpoint pen on the handy napkin, colored sticks and paper. Through these rough drawings, one becomes witness to the spontaneous energy, un-held back creativity, moments of lucidity most often denied us with the final ‘masterpiece.’ Such drawings contain and sustain the disposition of the artists, their efforts, their successes, their failures, and their eventual satisfaction before moving to the canvas.

“Each draughtsman manifests a kind of handwriting peculiar to himself even in his most faithful rendering of form; and by this we can immediately recognize the artist…” – Encyclopedia, 1911

Drawing is defined as, “trace left by a tool drawn along a surface particularly for the purpose of preparing a representation or pattern.” Among these tools are chalk, crayon, charcoal, metal point, pen and pencil. What is it that drawings represent? Drawings can record what an artist has seen, be a visualization of imagined forms or be a graphic symbol. They may include marginal notes or comments.

Like the Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh who had an interest in the expressive quality of line, Fernando Zobel (1924-1984) believed that line is important. Note the variety of lines he uses, their quality, type, and directions these lines take. In his travels, Zobel would often bring a notebook to draw. Many of his drawings are preparatory to his paintings.

Drawing imposes a kind of discipline. In the academies of old, artists met in the studio or in a patron’s place to draw from life. The academies also believed that art can be taught and studied in handbooks. To make a believeable figure of a human being, animal, plants, etc. examples to be coped and diagrams are provided in what are known as drawing books.

Q: How do you achieve immediacy in your work?

A: BY not making up your mind before you’re going to do it. It has to be immediate if you don’t know what you’re doing. And you take that chance and it is very embarrassing. Sometimes you succeed. Sometimes you don’t. You don’t have security. – Robert Rauchenberg interview (1979)

Found in the collection of the Lopez Museum and Library are drawings and sketches by artists most of which record sketches made for final works, or even sketches that document fleeting thought. Each sketch records quick thoughts, erasures, experiments in line, shape or color, frustration, anger, joy. Others show the recurrence of a topic, a subject, a model. Some pieces mark an artist’s development from one style to another, thoughts that race through their minds as they develop styles, many being seminal shifts and progressive points in their history, moments evident in their sketches.

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