als een geisha'
M.Vermeijden over het
werk van Juul Kraijer
a text by the artist
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The eloquence of my drawings I can't match with words. In spite of this,
I'm asked so regularly and with such persistence to give a specific explanation,
that I don't want to refuse out rightly doing so. I have consciously not
chosen a text written by others because of the risk that their interpretation
might become canonized by virtue of inclusion in this book. Personally,
I shrink back from interpreting my work, considering the fact that the
meaning of a drawing is always ambiguous. If it were unambiguous, I would
have chosen a more direct form than the poetic-associative one of visual
art. Visual art is a good medium for giving sharp definition to that which,
due to its not being finite, cannot be captured in language and theory.
Interpreting a drawing, as soon as it's done with some certainty, deforms
into the dictating of a meaning, whereby one artificially restricts the
work, amputating the other possibilities in favour of that single one.
With the words that I add to the drawings I will attempt to plant a signpost.
Not one that indicates the one and only correct direction, but one pointing
to many paths like on a nine-track crossroads, where you never know which
path you have already walked or from which path you actually came, and
nevertheless get to see acres of beautiful forest.
And keep in mind that an artist whose work is characterized so much by
deception will probably not avoid it in her writing either.
The drawings are in no way portrayals of real situations. They are rather
embodied frames of mind, literally incarnated by Japanese looking girls.
They use the form of the emblem; a concise combined play of elements that
bring a metaphor into being which gives the portrayal its significance.
The conciseness here is of vital importance. In drawing, it is conciseness
and restraint that form the guiding principle, a guiding principle which
I don't seem to have chosen, but which appears to be dictated by the drawings
themselves. It proves a condicio sine qua non, in its role as opposite,
as complementary, as the one statement of a contradiction.
nature of the restraint
The hint of environment is missing in almost all of the drawings; the
figures are surrounded by blank paper. There is no perspective, no background
or foreground and hardly any attire, so that definition of time is absent
as well. The only time they wear a garment, and I therefore have to show
my true colours, it is today's fashion, worn by myself and my friends
and therefore neutral and to a certain extent imperceptible by its general
distribution.The bodies drawn are naked but neutral. No flesh but a vehicle.
They remain within the domain of the spirit. No voluptuous forms, but
half-blown ones, hair in a tight knot -loose, luxurious, wavy only if
it forms the main character - no eyebrows, no eyelashes, no nails or pubic
hair and not even a chair to sit on. A certain plastic illusion-ism characterizing
the drawings is immediately undermined by the inherent, abstracting quality
of the very 'spiritual' medium, charcoal. The bodies retain the same dimension
as the paper. Charcoal on paper verges on the immaterial. It is wafer-thin
and scarcely affixes: just like the pattern on a butterfly wing. It decolorizes
the things, only registers where the form is not bathed by light or where
it is so to a lesser extent, and is therefore an abstraction of reality.The
postures are just as reticent and, as far as their choreographies are
concerned, related to those of the pictogram. The face often displays
itself en profil or en face and the body remains parallel
to the surface of the paper: no legs tapering away into the depth, no
torso leaning forward, drawn in perspective. There are hardly any gestures,
the postures have been robbed of all vitality. No suggestions of animation
or a spontaneous expressive gesticulating, but instead an intensely concentrated
pose that seems to have been adopted for eternity, because it's the most
meaningful one. The motionless-ness of the pose finds a counterpart in
the impassivity of the face. At the most, the girls might be slightly
coquettish, peering from the corner of their eyes at the effect they are
bringing about. The eyebrows are missing because all too soon they betray
inner life. Their hybrid Japanese features, closed and monolithic, are
strange to me and to the whole Western world and like a screen hide the
disorder from view. An all too human identification is made impossible.
If anything, they are personage, not person. Individuality is not significant
with regard to the role they are allocated: the voicing of the inner mind.
As actors they are always conscious of the presence of spectators. Even
if they turn away they keep a close eye on them.This reticence seems to
me to be necessary: it nurtures a contrast. For every drawing contains
a contradiction, a contradiction between the outer motionless ness and
the emotion of the inner mind, making the latter stand out more starkly.
Turned away, the leading actors cloak themselves in impenetrability and
perfect calmness, while they betray themselves. Somewhere on their
silent body a metamorphosis takes place, raises one single wave high above
a shallow sea.
ornate nature of the metamorphosis
It is the ornate nature of the metamorphosis that contrasts with the motionless-ness
with which the personalities experience it. Volumes speak in a room in
which you can hear a pin fall. A bosom becomes a pair of pigeons, vegetation
erupts from organs, a body multiplies itself by seven, with plaits entangled.
A girl gives birth to a blackbird, hedge-sparrows pierce from vertebra,
small trees from veins on hands. A heart is formed from silent fossil
tears; a face is doubled, it mutually spies on itself, suspiciously. Because
no situation is real, no girl tangible, only existing in her role as incarnation,
this unstable morphology is able to manifest itself. The dividing line
between the things is no longer unrelenting. The outline of the body loses
its absolute character. It alters its form to the most meaningful one.
The change, either mutation or mutilation, continues to come into being
at the most vulnerable place, there where the form of the body is most
advantageous or where resistance is the least. Every girl has her Achilles'
heel. The incongruity that takes place on her body is her only means of
expression. She does not try to hide this, on the contrary, she turns
it to the spectators, offers it to their glances, while she remains unapproachable.
The indirect frankness of the change of form unmasks the apparent serenity.
Absent or coquettish, always silent and enveloped in concentration, she
gives herself over to the metamorphosis.
I am limiting myself to this inventory of elements, even though I see
that here and there I betray myself in the choice of adjectives, in a
manner not dissimilar to the way my protagonists betray themselves. And
where they mislead with the roundabout route that they choose for exposing
themselves, the artist misleads by concealing herself behind a foreign
legion. With regard to both, this happens consciously but not deliberately.
And there are more similarities.
Facing my work it appears to me like the Hydra. It shows itself in many
faces, which originate from the same maternal body. No matter how many
I draw, new ones keep forcing themselves upon me. And all are in principle