Eden Barrena

“Drawing is a language like writing or talking, but instead of words, you use graphic elements. At the end you have an image built by codes, and this image describes a situation as any other ways of fiction do.” – Eden Barrena

Eden Barrena is a Spanish artist and recent graduate of MA Printmaking at the Royal College of Art. Drawing is central to her work and practice. In one of her pieces, 400 ways of looking at a magnolio fruit, she drew the same fruit 400 times, quickly and on tiny pieces of paper, before scanning them and creating a gif which she projected in the garden in the night.

Eden Barrena, from 400 ways of looking at a magnolio fruit. Drawing and stop motion animation, 2015. Image from http://edenbarrena.com/400waysoflookingat.html

She says about drawing: “My strategy is to draw the same thing many times in order to know it well. I keep the speed in order to preserve certain mystery too: the fascination the image provokes me never gets to disappear completely.” (Interview with 1Granary Magazine)

I find Barrena’s drawings full of life and energy – her bold shading and line-making gives out a sense of confidence in her approach. Seeing – seeing – seeing – seeing…

Her drawing style builds up layers upon layers of coloured pencil lines, and these layers work well in printmaking to give her backgrounds a dizzying sense of depth. They also communicate something about process, reminding us that the image is made out of drawings. This is a lithograph from the series Colonia, one of nine prints based on photographs of 20th century colonial Africa.

Eden Barrena, from Colonia. Stone lithography (3 layers), 42 x 59.4 cm. Image from http://edenbarrena.com/coloniaingles.html

What I really like about Barrena’s work is the way she has built an entire artistic practice around playfulness and the pursuit of visual pleasure. This is something that I think of as particular to artists who call themselves illustrators, but Barrena doesn’t categorise herself. “In my opinion, art is made from pleasure,” she says, “… and finding pleasure (not only in art, but in life in general) is something we shouldn’t feel guilty about.”

Link to interview with Eden Barrena at 1Granary magazine here.

Jan Leth

Jan Leth (1932 – 2010) was a Danish artist who trained as a painter, worked with lithography and in his later years was well-known for his sculptures.

Jan Leth, Mur og Mennesker (Wall and People), 1968. Aquatint. Image from http://www.janleth.dk/flashsite/frameset.html

I found this print of his which I immediately liked. I like the way that the image is split up into frames, which makes us want to take in all the depicted movement at once, and at the same time slows the eye down. The deep blacks and painterly marks create a lot of atmosphere and energy in the pictures. All the ‘frames’ contribute to the emotional weight of the image, but the one down from the top centre (of a man’s whole torso with arms flung out) seems to be a natural centre – perhaps because it’s the most immediately identifiable as a person. My favourite is the bottom centre image, of a person curled into a ball. The bright light shining on the back makes their hiding position even more poignant.