For many years I have been preoccupied with focusing my field of vision on the iconography of the still-life and the landscape through the media of painting and drawing. Painting and drawing in a representational manner is an attempt to develop a visual vocabulary of symbols and forms which, as Giacometti wrote, “makes me discover more of the world and reveal signs of life and the human condition.” Rainer Marie Rilke believed that “as soon as an artist has once found the living center of his activity, nothing is so important for him as to remain in it.”
For me, this “living center” is the still-life and the landscape, which continually stir my interest and offer me countless possibilities and constant scrutiny based upon direct observation from nature, psychological ideas derived from memory experience, and analytical organization. The landscape motif has always fascinated me and has appeared as background imagery within many of my works. This discovery led me to shift my focus in recent years to drawing the landscape as an image in its own right. Following trips to Costa Rica, the countryside of Italy, and living for many summers at the New Jersey shore, my drawings became less literal and more involved with the abstract qualities of form and shape. I began to create landscape images in ink that were a response to these qualities.
At a certain point in my development of the landscape I decided that a pen – specifically a felt-tipped pen – allowed me, in an ironic way, more freedom to draw. I realized that I could not erase easily. This experience forced my drawing process to become more spontaneous and continuous. I became increasingly aware of the beauty and the purity of single and overlapping marks and lines. At first, the landscape images depicted were traditional vistas. As I continued to draw and investigate, the landscape became visually closer and denser, as if the viewer were in the landscape. This perspective allowed me to become more aware, involved, and concerned with the abstract qualities of nature and mark making.
In my drawings, I want the viewer to experience a visual excitement through an appreciation of the pure raw marks beyond the depiction of the scene: to recognize that from the variety of marks can emerge a clarity of lines, shapes, and forms that describe and reveal an idea about nature and life. As John Berger noted, this “discovery” shows how marks made in a particular way can reveal new ideas about perception.
-Harry I. Naar, 2006