Drawing, 1999. Charcoal on paper. 20cm x 28cm
Out of silence comes the word. Out of the void comes the mark.
In Frances Aviva Blane’s drawings, meaning is struggled towards through a process of erasure and mark-making. On roughly drawn sheets of Fabriano paper, she scratches, erases, smudges, and rubs out to create traumatised surfaces that embody the history of their own making. The jagged lines, loops, and calligraphic marks (the kinetic rhythms) form edgy accretions. The drawings – autonomous works unrelated to later paintings – become palimpsests that embody the physical struggle, the aesthetic compulsion and inner imperative to express that which the artist herself could not name in any other way. The ‘psychotic’ marks, like those of an autistic child, attempt to make sense of and order an unnameable and mystifying world. If we think in order to know, we ‘write’ in order to understand.
ln her essay Revolution in Poetic language, Julia Kristeva argues that we understand the term semiotic in its Greek sense “as the distinctive mark, trace, index, precursory sign, proof, engraved or written sign, imprint, trace figuration.” This signfiying process, what Freud called the “primary process”, displaces ‘energy’ charges as well as ‘physical’ marks to articulate what she identifies as the chora. It is from this pre-Oedipal locus that the struggle for articulation and meaning comes, the desire for ordering principles and utterances. Plato saw the chora as a nourishing and maternal receptacle, a primal space not yet defined by unifying principles such as a deity. In this paradisal domain meaning has not yet been formed, nor has any distinction been made between the real and the symbolic. The fragmented maternal body, shattered by what Melanie Klein identifies as early infantile rage, has still to be reconstructed through a process of artistic reparation or linguistic signification.
The struggle of Blane’s cursive marks to achieve articulation is the acting out of a personal Gethsemane that leaves behind the physical and tactile traces of the adversarial act. From white erasure, to the shimmering tar-black of dense charcoal and graphite, Blane has created raw and beautiful drawings that embody the desire for expression and meaning.
Content and Texts © Sue Hubbard 1999
Image © Frances Aviva Blane 1999