Drawing on the nowhere side of the brain

APRIL 09 05

I've done some new automatic drawings. I'm quite fond of Ston and Dreaming bird. Someone should snap them up before I raise my obscenely low prices.

A new site by Aster called Angel Drawing has just been launched, dedicated to automatism in art. I was pleasantly surprised to see he has a page on myself. According to his email, Aster has recently realised that automatic drawing comes from angels so all his own drawing, which in the past he called 'ideomotor art', has now become 'angel drawing', hence the site name. People like to have things sown up I guess. Austin Spare, who is featured, would probably be surprised to hear his drawings are angelic as opposed to demonic, but, in the scheme of things, we're only talking a matter of degree. For me, though, automatic drawing remains an act of spontaneous creation sucking unconscious material from a characterless void. 'Emptiness is form, form is emptiness', as the Heart Sutra puts it. But I don't mind if someone wants to see my drawings as angelic. It all depends how strong the grass you're smoking is.

I was interested too to see that Aster regards Anton Heyboer as 'the uncrowned king of angel art'. I love Anton's work, he has a great mastery of line that you usually only see in the the best Chinese and Japanese calligraphers, and he engages me because he places importance on the act of creation itself, seeming to regard the resultant artwork as a kind of remnant of that process that hardly interests him at all. This to me is telling of the difference between living art and producing art. Anton says that he 'sees through' his own paintings and drawings. I think I know what he means. I find the art is in the act, and the resultant artwork is a representation. Although this may sound a simple idea, I expect most 'artists' regard the artwork itself as the art and the act as the labour of producing it. That of course is little more than producing commodities. Yet even for the person who regards the act as the art, if the resultant artwork is sold is it any different to a straight commodity? Is the final arbiter of what constitutes 'art' the buyer? This is probably why it's better for an artist to regard the act as the art, since it is unsellable. Then people will buy what they feel has sufficient echo of art present in it to warrant shelling out money, and the artist needn't concern himself. To me, it's sold or it's burnt, and seeing as I am not in a position to burn money and have in the past few years recognised that there are people willing to buy my work I no longer burn it as quickly as I did. But this is why I think I understand what Anton is getting at when he talks of 'seeing through' his own work.

One of Anton's five wives is Lotti Heyboer, known to Yijing aficionados as LiSe, who has a fine website split into two halves, one half dedicated to the Yijing and the other to Anton's art. The story of how Anton and his wives came to their 'isle on the swamps' is quite marvellous, with some great photographs. Anton's story is a wonderful example of building a completely different way of life out of the inspiration of pure insanity.