Sunday, August 26, 2012

Madeleine Goodwolf - Drawings & Paintings

Madeleine Goodwolf's exhibition was opened by Lucy Wilson on 24 August 2012 at Handmark Gallery, and this is what she said...
those poignant moments
by Madeleine Goodwolf
Welcome everyone to the Opening of Madeleine Goodwolf’s Exhibiton of drawings and paintings … (dot dot dot) … and no prints!

I’ve enjoyed seeing this series of Maddy’s drawings a few times. The first time I saw them was one night when I dropped in on Maddy and we had a cup of tea and were chatting and I asked her what she’d been up to, and she said “drawing”, and I said, “can I see?” and she said “yeah”. So we whipped out the back to the studio and scurried up the stairs … and it was exciting to see these drawings – black charcoal lines on big white paper. There was a tenderness and an aliveness and a beauty about them.

And what was more exciting was seeing Maddy and how happy she was about doing drawings ….and not print making anymore. Really? Gulp. Madeleine Goodwolf, Printmaker of nearly 20 yrs with a reputation that crosses oceans, and not just Bass Strait but across to Germany and beyond, and has been collected by many art lovers and acquired by prestigious collections.
“Yeah” she says “I don’t want to do printmaking anymore. I'm not enjoying it. I want to draw. I don’t know how it will go. But that’s what I’m doing.”

The second time I saw the drawings, I saw most of these that we can see here hanging on the wall, but they were spread out on the floor, in the same studio out the back from her house. And we chatted...

I found out that Maddy drew them in another studio in the city above a shop in Elizabeth Street. That she sits on the floor and crawls around to draw. That she has no idea what she’s going to draw before she begins. But that she usually starts at the hip.

Looking at the drawings it’s obvious that Maddy loves drawing. She loves the immediacy of it. She loves it that a figure just comes from her hand onto the page and is not affected by a process i.e. printmaking.

Sometime in the midst of our conversation Orlando, Maddy’s youngest son, bounded up the stairs and joined us, and his way of looking at and appreciating the work was to tip-toe between the drawings, in a gangly fashion, wearing big galumphing running shoes.

And I’m sitting down on a chair looking at the drawings, and looking at the gangly figure of Orlando balancing between the big sheets of paper, each one about that far apart (about two inches) from each other, to the gangly elongated limbed figures in the drawings. And I look at Orlando and his foot, foot, ah there, it can go there…and I look at the drawing.

And Maddy’s standing by the chimney - completely relaxed. We keep chatting…

I also find out that these drawings are all from Maddy's imagination. She doesn’t know who these people are. But in her work over the years, the female figure she’s always there and the male figure he comes in and out. Sometimes he’s a duck, or a giraffe.

Maddy tells me she’s been drawing charcoal since she was seventeen. She used to do lots of rubbing out back then, but now she’s given up rubbing out and she leaves her mistakes on the page.

And it’s the mistakes that I find most compelling.
Maddy lets the mistake lines become the piece. All the marks are there for a reason, because she’s struggled with something. She’s found the mistakes are a doorway to make something happen, that wouldn’t otherwise happen. Maddy owns her mistakes, she leans into them and sees where they take her. Which is always a surprise.

And if there are too many mistakes, she turns them into hair, and if it’s a really big mistake it becomes a black scrawl! I notice the mistakes on the female figures become hair and the mistakes on the male figures become a big scribble.

Of course, I can’t help but wonder what we learn in the parallel reflection of our lives?
Mistakes are definitely interesting. They’re even beautiful. And sometimes when they’re really bad, they’re a black cloud. But they’re all there for a reason, and often we learn more from our mistakes, than if everything runs smoothly.

In contrast to the mistakes made with the limbs, hands and feet, the faces have an almost photographic quality. Maddy told me she does them really carefully, as it’s hard to get them back again if they get mucked up.

It was around this point that I learn this weird thing about Maddy. In the way that probably all of us have a weird thing. I know I do. Anyway, when Maddy is talking to you, she’s drawing your face with her finger onto her thumb…. “there’s the eyes, nose and that’s the distance to the lips…” That’s how she can work out the face from her imagination. It’s like some kind of primal image texting. Imagine how many faces are imprinted onto her thumb!

And the third time I saw these drawings is here tonight all framed up, beautifully, by Nic Goodwolf.

This is a personal exhibition. It’s one where Maddy’s been questioning why she makes art. It’s been like a homecoming in the act of making it and discovering the images as they present themselves. And it’s the closest Maddy’s come through her art, to expressing herself, her truth, where indeed “a thousand ladders are sprouting from her heart”, which is her title for one of the works.

It’s a pleasure and an honour to open Madeleine Goodwolf’s ‘Exhibition of No Prints!’ It is in fact her first exhibition without any prints! These drawings were made holding the charcoal with an excited hand. Congratulations Maddy.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful exhibition, beautiful speech. Beautiful art...


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