Since 2014・Volume 6
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
PICK PIECES The Ballpointer staff choose the artwork and let the artist explain it in their own words Vol 6 No 3 posted June 18, 2019
Christopher Arabadjis・New York, NY
I'll Take You There 2019 ・ 16 x 20'' (40.64 x 50.8cm) ・ ballpoint pen on paper
''My larger drawings like I’ll Take You There are inspired by the results of smaller drawings which I make on the train during my two hour commute. It is a meditative practice that I do nearly every day. The larger drawings have for some time been titled after songs. The choice of title is intuitive. It is also intended to let the viewer know that there is a system beyond the image itself, in the same way that a song exists with a history of its own creation and performance... continues below
This drawing began as a filling of space, small blue hollow squares colonizing the emptiness. But every now and then a void could not be filled and a bloom of red sprang up. That space was not to be intruded upon. So the squares went around. Red blooms of differing sizes continued to appear and prevent the occupation by blue squares, and the squares continued to fill in around them. As the blue squares multiplied, some began to develop a structure as a way to defend against an error in their creation: an unintended thickening of the delicate line that defined them.
In time the whole plane was filled except for the red blooms and a band of emptiness near the border—a kind of no-squares zone. The development of structure continued into neighboring squares where no errors had occurred. At the same time the red blooms seemed to reach out and blush the centers of many of the still empty squares. And many of those squared in turn developed a lighter blue structure similar to the deeper blue of the original squares. And that is where this drawing stopped.
I start these drawings the same way, with a mark and a rule for how to repeat it. A rule usually describes how different the next mark can be from the previous one. I try to rigorously adhere to the rules. Once this process is set in motion, I let go and see where it takes me. Each mark is a small yet conscious decision, but I work quickly enough that it does not feel that way. In fact I often feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. If a drawing seems to stall under the weight of too much homogeneity I will loosen the rule or introduce another system to allow for greater diversity.
I think of my smaller drawings as mini physics calculations or simulations. Like trying to build my own universe from scratch, or as we say in physics from first principles. The development of each drawing mimics the process of growth with a built-in mechanism for mutation—the inability of my hand or my mind to remain free of error. I don’t use any tools beyond the pen itself. And I’ve come to see errors as acts of creativity.
I experience two distinct sensations when I draw. One is the feeling that I’m busy at work making mark after mark. I enjoy having a strong sense of purpose. When I’m making the small drawings on the train, I have a fantasy that my drawing helps the train run. The other sensation is that of an observer. Surrendering to the process, I watch as if I have no idea what’s coming next. Every new move is a surprise. I even feel a sense of admiration for how the person drawing seems to create this universe out of his imagination''・
For more art, information & contact : www.chrisarabadjis.com All artwork © Christopher Arabadjis ・
illustration by Susan May for The Ballpointer