The Graphite Drawing Series 1976 - 1979
Anatomy of the Stroke
In 1976, Engel began a performance piece, a one a day execution of a drawn self-portraits, to span a year's time. This led the successive representational drawings slowly into abstraction where Engel produced a series of over 200 graphite drawings. The technique involved a graphite stick used on its side where broad strokes and layers of marks were controlled and modeled by the precision of the artist's hand. The result of the final drawings became a single controlled stroke. By changing hands in mid-stroke and simultaneously spinning and tilting the stick, a mobius path is perceived - flowing through the layers of the picture plane.
(Excerpt / paraphrased from artist statement by Larry Engel)
One of the most enjoyable aspects of my role as gallerist are the studio visits that I frequently do with artists. When assembling an exhibit, I cannot dismiss the important relationship between the artist and their studio. The vital role that the studio has as a space for production is essential to understanding the artist, and their work on a more visceral level. The studio, atelier - is a place where ideas, inquiry, process, tinkering, rumination, experimentation, and play often coalesce in the quiet confines of an old warehouse, barn, shed, basement, or converted attic. This type of access to the "inside" is important to where I begin telling their story in the form of - exhibition.
After several months of planning a visit, artist Larry Engel and I finally met this past winter at his studio/home - tucked away in rolling countryside of the beautiful Catskill Mountains. Previously, Engel lived in New York City in the 1970's and 80's where he worked as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer, creating editorial illustrations for the New York Times. He was also a studio painter, sculptor, and fine draughtsman.
My original intention for the studio visit was to view his 3-dimensional assemblages, found-object sculptural works, and cast bronze personified objects that had captured the attention of the late Allan Stone, a noted art dealer in NYC who Engel showed with in the 1980's. After spending a few hours in the studio, I noticed that Engel was quite a prolific artist who dabbled in a little bit of "everything" and did it all quite well. I knew that I was interested in Engel as an artist, but unsure of how I would proceed with an exhibition since his 3-dimensional work, while refreshing and often times quite witty, did not fit the scope of our gallery's program. I asked if he had anything else that he wanted to show me. He opened the drawers of an old wooden flat file and pulled out a large stacks of graphite drawings on full sheets of Italian Fabriano Paper - each done with a single graphite stick - all produced in the 1970's and rarely seen. They were fresh, unique, finely crafted drawings that consistently displayed his control and demand of a material. It was the "aha" moment for me that day and one that fueled the connection I was searching for with Engel; a cohesive body of work where precision met whimsy among fine craftsmanship and innovation. Many of these works have never been previously shown, and Anthony Brunelli Fine Arts is pleased to bring you an exclusive viewing and curated selection of exquisite graphite works by artist, Larry Engel. We hope you will enjoy.
Anthony Brunelli FIne Arts