It’s Like a Snapshot Only Waaaaay Better

2 Sep 2012

There's something immediately nostalgic about Charles Kanwischer's graphite drawings. When I first saw them I immediately felt like I was looking at an old black and white snapshot. But in a way, his simple drawings are far better than snapshots because in his work you know there's intent behind the banality of his subject matter and the objects he depicts.

US 24 Road Project - Support Columns by Charles Kanwischer, 2010, graphite on panel, 11 3/4 x 15 3/4.
US 24 Road Project - Support Columns by Charles Kanwischer, 2010,
graphite on panel, 11 3/4 x 15 3/4.

What would be a bad, throwaway photo of a construction site of a highway or a newly built house sitting on a grassless plot becomes a drawing loaded with meaning in the hands of Kanwischer. Thoughts arise about the contradictions of progress as well as how even the most utilitarian forms can appear monumental in the hands of the right artist. Essentially, any "snapshot" can turn into an image worthy of interest if an artist presents it in the right way.

Untitled (Maumee River) by Charles Kanwischer, 2006, graphite on panel, 11 x 15.
Untitled (Maumee River) by Charles Kanwischer, 2006, graphite on panel, 11 x 15.

But it is also really good to note that while any bungler can take a bad snapshot, not everyone can turn one into a quality drawing. That is what separates Kanwischer. It's obvious he knows how to draw all the basic forms any student learns to render, and he does use graphite, which is one of the most humble drawing materials available, but he ends up creating works that have such an eloquent design and almost romantic patina, despite their being in black and white.

Unfinished Road by Charles Kanwischer, 2010, graphite on panel, 11 3/4 x 15 3/4.
Unfinished Road by Charles Kanwischer, 2010, graphite on panel, 11 3/4 x 15 3/4.

I feel like we are in an artistic moment right now with drawing that embodies the best of the past and the present in art while showing us where the possibilities for the future lie. Kanwischer is part of that continuum, and the best resource to find his work and the work of others who reflect this momentum is in Drawing magazine. It shows unusual and interesting drawing art from contemporary draftsmen, classical drawing lessons from established instructors, and drawing ideas that evolve the practice forward. And you'll get to see more of Kanwischer's work in the first issue you get with your Drawing subscription. Enjoy!

 


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ekquinn wrote
on 3 Sep 2012 12:30 PM

I have experienced unfinished roadworks and broken road works and find them interesting. One of my girlfriends whole life changed when Alligator Alley refused to finish an exit off of it to her property. So, in a way, its an opportunity for much more art beyond the snapshot. I did many large ink drawings of wilderness scenes with broken and some finished road works and pump works with enlarged animals to create art. In my view art begins when you add expression that exists beyond the real image. Mimicry according to art history is the initial child stage of an artist like a child repeating parents voice phonetics and actions. When you learn to act and think by law 16-21 you are supposed to take responsibility for your actions. Some mimics do exceed the optics of the lens with more perspective views than 3. Picturesque is in that realm. I have seen roads in CT and MA that drive into lakes and are not boat ramps. In Michigan supposedly the road to the US Gov computer in the lake is visible as a gigantic roadway in good condition. In NY there are roads off docks where concrete mixing corps are located that enter long island sound. I wrote a paper to get into Cooper Union about a prison that was like atlantis where prisoners believed to be outside but were under water and the light came from underwater windows. Perhaps there is a need to document thes moments and forum the place and site. Although its not always safe, it does reveal issues to economy and social life. Many say that prison architects are gay because the law prevents them a female partner for fear of revealing locations by girls who talk. Many photographers get offed by weird state type authorities that show up out of the ether when they do their photos. Drawing that scene and how they show up is art and a role it plays in history.