Diana Smillie showcases her latest work in '12
Capricci' an exhibition of ink drawings open at Mint Gallery 22
April - 5 May.
'These drawings, using a blackback seagull's feather
quill, were done at speed, and with no prior mental image of what
figures were going to populate them.
Looking at the title, there is the obvious semantic
link to Goya's great series of etchings ,Los Caprichos. With my
drawings however I find myself aligning with a more musical
incarnation of freedom and imagination : the 24Capriccifor solo
violin composed by one of the darkest lords of Western culture, the
virtuosoassoluto Niccolo Paganini.
Published for the first time in 1820, these short,
intense pieces are bristling with demonic brio, and are alive with
impulsive, improvisatory qualities and it's here that I find
connections with my work. Not just the sometimes dark imagery, but
also the responsive flexibility of the quill as it twists, turns
and snags to create sudden and unexpected spatters of ink remind me
of the violin's flexible and responsive catgut strings - not
actually from cats, but the intestines of sheep or goats; like the
feather, both taken from nature in the service of seeking and
finding freedom in art.
The intuitive, exploratory nature of Paganini's
Capricci is something I relate to in my work strongly, as when I
draw in this manner I learn new things along the way, usually by
accident. As I improvise I am guided by the pen as it leads me
across the paper and the black lines that evolve into coherent
forms across the page remind me of the clear, sinuous explorations
of a solo violin as it glides and curvettes to build the edifice of
its harmonies .
There is absolutely no literal connection between
these drawings and the 24 Capricci-as in music, they come from a
place in which words have no power. Finding meanings in them is, as
the viewer, your job .There is no right or wrong way ;one of the
greatest gifts I get back as an artist is being told by someone
what a work means to them, what they see in it; it's always
surprising and I'm constantly amazed by how different people take
their own personal meaning away with them .I'd like to think that
the freedom I've experienced when drawing this series transmits to
the viewer as a freedom of interpretation.'