Reifenstein: Word-image/Image-word interpenetrations: characterising pictural and literary interactions in contemporary drawing practice
Raymond Pettibon’s (*1957) immense body of work, as well as the graphic œuvre of Michaël Borremans (*1963) and William Kentridge (*1955) are characterised by an interdependent and dialogical relationship between literary writing and drawing practices. The artists seemingly consider writing and drawing as extensions of each other, and thus employ the two practices as interpenetrational processes. Processes, in which image and text exhibit a reciprocal fusion that allows them to upset and strengthen, negotiate and overwhelm, shape and undo each other mutually. Although the eventual result of such drawing-writing practices—literally, collocated words and images on a sheet of paper—is comparable to illustrational work, the latter is determined by narrative demands in which images supplement a verbal body text that is already regarded as stable and comprehensive. A similar observation may be made about the reverse effect, in which finito images are captioned post hoc.
This kind of verbo-pictural work is habitually depicted as, but hardly reducible to, a binary word-image conception, instead it displays the attentive reciprocity of drawing’s and writing’s common graphic gesture. The current project pursues three adherent objectives, in order to confront its overall aim. They are processually orientated and query: How can the import of material or physical constituents of drawing-writing practices be described? How do formal and compositional parameters co-determine verbo-pictural interactions? What is the role of sequentiality in the triad framework of making, reading and viewing? Although as a verbal concept, all three objectives may be neatly separated, in actuality, they fashion a tightly woven texture that irrevocably links aspects of material shaping with temporal considerations of making and, concomitantly, formal matters of viewing. Inextricably bound up with this processual discussion is furthermore a millennia-old discourse that swings between sibling rivalry (paragone), on the one hand, and the reciprocity between the sister arts, on the other.