Missing the Ball Point
Dimes-to-donuts there's a ballpoint pen within reach of you right now. Reliable friends, always there when you need them; on standby to scratch a Hitler mustache onto The President or blacken the teeth of the covergirl dujour. Your grade-school composition books were probably filled with more stream-of-conscious creative filler than actual studies. But this proletarian tool is no longer just for signing checks, writing postcards or doodling sweet nothings.
The origins of ballpoint artwork echo the humble origins of art itself. Caveman roots; the universal, instinctive urge to create. For some, an irresistible force; to express oneself, to leave one's mark, to teach, using whatever tools are available. All that's necessary is the will to do so, pressed by a bit of creative curiosity, aided by ingenuity. ''Let's see what happens when I do this.'' Galleries, museums and art critics enter the equation much later.
There you sit, a dozen-thousand years later, surfing through the daily barrage of viral news. A headline grabs you: Starving Artist Illustrates The Bible on his Bedroom Wall Using Ballpoint Pens. Well, ''starving artist '' doesn't mean much anymore; with the amount of aspiring artists art schools churn out every year its a miracle anyone goes onto a career. ''Illustrating the Bible ''? Hasn't that already been accomplished in any number of formats any number of times in any number of languages ? ''On his bedroom wall ''? Children cover walls with masterpieces daily, to their parent's dismay, worldwide. And ''using ballpoint pen''? Now there's a story, right ? Well…
News outlets worldwide still report about artwork created using ballpoint pens as if, in the half-century since its invention, the pens have never been given any artistic consideration. Prior to the advent of the internet and social media, their ignorance could be forgiven. Nowadays ballpointers are everywhere, in every corner of the world, and the so-called ballpoint Wow Factor in and of itself carries less weight. The internet and social media are these days awash with ballpoint art blogs of every stripe, although with varying content. Ballpoint art classes may already be part of a curriculum somewhere. But the birth of the internet didn't mark the beginnings of ballpoint innovation; if anything, it merely serves as proof of how commonplace it has become, or how it has been all along ・・・
RECAP originally posted in installments throughout 2015
Andy Warhol @ Christie's online auction series, 2015
continuing from above ... ''I came in contact with Gentileschi’s work during my time as an intern at the Royal Academy of Spain in Rome (2007-2008), and was fascinated by her mastery and her life as a woman painter among male artists. I referred to the biographical book written about her by Anna Banti in 1947 and, along with my own travel notebook written during trips through Italy, USA and England to study Artemisia’s works in private collections, can be considered pillars onto which I can build the narrative of the exhibition, forming the beautiful visual poem that is part of the exhibition catalogue published for this occasion. It is an exhibition that goes from the biographical to the autobiographical, about that specular and reciprocal game always present in my work and also in the works of Artemisia Gentileschi and Anna Banti.
In the artwork created for the show, I speak of how art transforms life, and vice versa; of life itself reflecting
in art. Thus, all works reflect in different ways on the duality of the voice, on the authorship of works that
form part of a life, about the past and the present, and about the feminine in their different realities, representations and perspectives. To genuinely reflect these ideas, all the women represented in the exhibition are professionals in the field of art: artists, gallery owners, collectors, art historians, writers, art critics, architects, dancers and actresses; women who are represented as they have decided, without
hiding themselves, without censorship”・
''This is one the ballpoint drawings for my current exhibition, Non Piangere (Enough Tears), a show inspired by the Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Her iconic works serve as the basis to instill my own characteristic iconography around the female body and its nature; the body as a place for political and social reaction confronts the viewer with their own thinking. How do we see ourselves? How do we see each other? What ideas do we have about ourselves as an individual and as a social body?'' text continues below ...
Artemisia, Judith, Rachel © Juan Francisco Casas ・
PICK PIECES The Ballpointer staff choose the artwork and let the artist explain it in their own words ・ Vol 7 No 4 posted July 4, 2020
Juan Francisco Casas・Madrid, Spain
Artemisia, Judith, Rachel ・ 2020 ・ ballpoint pen on paper ・ 30 x 40 cm (12 x 16'')
Since 2014・Volume 7
illustration by Susan May for The Ballpointer