project space

Ronald Noorman

SOLACE - works on paper

24 Sept - 20 Nov 2011

Ronald Noorman (1951) is, beyond a doubt, a draughtsman at heart, being an artist who makes full use of the qualities and potential of his medium. Aside from intimacy and transparency, terseness is a particularly striking characteristic among the recent drawings of his exhibition in the project space.

Often the works consist of no more than a few lines in chalk or charcoal, along with a number of loosely rendered, open strokes in gouache. While there may be an accent of color, Noorman also frequently employs black, since he is most fond of that. A confinement to the bare essentials is accompanied by great directness. Intuition is the driving force. Noorman works on several drawings at a time, kneeling on the floor while surrounded by his drawing materials. This minimizes, both literally and figuratively, the distance between head, hand and image. Though there are few direct references to visible reality, the drawings are certainly not void of representation. Lines merge to become compact marks which form a conglomeration of emotions, thoughts and experiences. There are recurrent motifs: enclaves, funnels or 'faulty' (crooked) staples. Titles such as Mijn/Dijn(Mine/Thine) or Landjepik (a game of conquest) give direction to our observation without actually explaining the drawings. Despite the fact that these images defy interpretation on a single level, clearly the lines do mark off boundaries, move them or cause them to become contained and constrained. Connections are sought but not always found. Quite some commotion can often arise and lead to a subdued tension, but there is also tranquillity and the rhythmic quality of a newly found balance. The expressive power of these drawings rests, to a large degree, on the character and intensity of the lines themselves. They are not only the result of an action, but bear the traces of this as well. Due to the vehemence with which they have been set down, it sometimes seems as though the act of drawing itself has become a game of conquest. In other drawings, where the execution of line is more fragile and light, it is as if the image, not needing to be won, simply presented itself instead.

Just how little is needed to arrive at a vigorous image, which sustains itself, and where does an excess begin to undermine its intensity and magic? This question lies at the heart of Noorman's approach to drawing, but it is also reflected in his admiration of ethnographic objects, which he has collected with his wife over the past twenty years. In that art as well, he looks for a creative treatment of the material and a strong, terse execution of line. Noorman's own visual language or motifs are rarely based on any of the objects from his collection or on the customs which they represent. One example of this can be seen in the exhibition. Elaborating on a Surinamese custom of allowing newcomers to a village to enter through a gate covered with leaves, so as to ward off bad forces and evil spirits, Noorman drew his own geestenvegers (spirit brushes). In his exhibition Solace they implicitly invite us to enter the world of his drawings and be open to their poetry.