Bringing the Dark to Light

24 Jul 2012

There are subject matters that are fairly easy to take in and those that need more time to understand and a willingness on the part of the viewer to move out of his or her comfort zone. Works that artistically represent intense events--like violence or tragedy--are especially powerful when they merge they way they are created with what they are representing.

A drawing from Sophie Jodoin's "War" series.

A drawing from Sophie Jodoin's "War" series.

I first came across Sophie Jodoin's work in Drawing magazine several years ago. Her "War" series was the topic of the article and the works shown were severe. Maimed figures; shadowy, threatening figures with guns; huddled groups of what look to be mourners--Jodoin's drawing ideas revolved around war and finding artistry in its objects, victims, and perpetrators.

But Jodoin's drawing art also leaves a lasting impression because of the way the works are drawn. The anonymous violence that war often brings is echoed in her work by her drawn figures, which are also anonymous-faces covered, placed in shadow, or purposefully smeared out. All that is left is the acts-and the remains.

Bathtub scene by Sophie Jodoin, drawing.
Bathtub scene by Sophie Jodoin, drawing.
These are no easy drawings to create. The tension in Jodoin's work doesn't just come together. It is obvious the artist is well versed in her chosen medium and knows how to site a composition on the page for the biggest impact. Simple drawings in terms of composition, that's true, but that just means every part of it has to be purposeful and well thought out. Jodoin is also skillful at gradation. Using stark black and white as well as gray, she gives dimension to her forms with relatively little--just Conte on mylar.

Jodoin's works are a good reminder that art hasn't kept itself relevant through hundreds of years because it is content to sit on its laurels. It is always growing and changing. And I've found that artists have pivotal moments in their work when they work out ideas that aren't easy to tackle--and they do it through it an intimate way of working like drawing. Jodoin is one of many artists who work this way, and if you want to explore her work and others, browse through the Drawing, American Artist, and Watercolor magazine issues that are on sale now in the Artist Daily Store.


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