Jac Saorsa's first London exhibition constitutes an exploration of the concept of meaning in its diverse forms. It is a show made up of separate elements that interconnect and interact in the manner of a gestalt. It is a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.
Based on two specific series of works, one of large-scale drawings and one of oil paintings, the overall design of Drawing on Uncertainty develops the idea of the indeterminacy of understanding through a fragmentation of the text‚ that is the exhibition itself. All the parts of this text are fundamentally linked by the concept of drawing as a primary form of artistic practice.
Drawing is considered by the artist to be at least, and perhaps more communicative in terms of meaning as conventional language.
I think that at root, the difference between verbal and visual literacy is that the latter requires visual acuity; the ability to "see" more in what is experienced, and visual expression; the ability to express visually both clearly and accurately.
In order to demonstrate the mutuality of the visual and the verbal in visual terms, the integration of a written text with visual imagery is an important part of the whole concept. This text, taken from the artist‚s own notes and musings while in Costa Rica, exploits the concept of uncertainty by crossing the barriers of conventional understanding consisting of two languages, English and Spanish, which are integrated and fragmented in ways that relate to the basic theme of the exhibition.
THE DRAWINGS, inspired by a recent extended visit by the artist to Costa Rica, are intuitive works, highly complex responses to the different language, culture, climate and architecture. Most importantly they are visual testimony to an experience and as such they incorporate many layers of meaning.‚ They are executed with charcoal, graphite, and in some cases ink and are mainly monotone with only specific areas where muted colour has been applied with pure pigment. The drawings constitute an exploration of practice as process, and reveal the visual indications of changes of mind, certainty and uncertainty on the part of the artist. Perspective and contour are played‚ within the execution of these works, adding to the sense of uncertainty and instability the viewer may feel.
The written text is incorporated into the drawings themselves or overlaid on film or trace. This text is fragmented and multilayered. Lines of written text, drawn lines or networks of both connect each drawing to the others in the series.
THE PAINTINGS are figurative works after live model. Painted in oils, mainly monotone and deliberately confusing the distinction between drawing and painting techniques, they represent various aspects of the model, fragments‚ of the person, facial expression and hand gesture. ŒStructure lines‚, relating to the rules of traditional academic figure drawing are drawn with a brush over the painting so that it appears to have been executed Œinside out‚. The lines form a kind of exoskeleton that confuses the eye as regards two and three dimensionality denying the viewer any visual certainty.
The paintings are not simply representations of a particular person. They rather relate to the actual experience of being human in two different ways. They make visual the nuances of expression and mood, and invite the viewer to empathise and find meaning from within their own emotional response. They also embody the analytical, constructive‚ aspect of visual representation, albeit in a way that does not accede to normal understanding, which reduces the Œperson‚ to an object that can be understood in cognitive terms. At the conjunction of these two ways of understanding the painting lies the uncertainty that is derived from a discontinuous dialogue between the artist and viewer and the work.
THE ARTIST Jac Saorsa trained and practiced as an illustrator while living in England. In 1993 she moved to Scotland to concentrate on her own work. She has BA Hons Degree in Philosophy and Social Sciences and an MPhil in Philosophical Aesthetics from Glasgow University. In 1999 she attended the New York Academy of Art Graduate School of Figurative Art for one year studying figurative drawing, painting and sculpture. Drawing directly from life on a daily basis, and through in depth study and interpretation of Œmaster‚ drawings, she gained a deeper insight into the nature of her own practice. On leaving New York she moved to Cyprus where she lived and worked as a professional artist and researcher. She now divides her time between Glasgow where she has a studio in the WASPS building and Costa Rica where she has recently been appointed Director of Drawing at the Veritas University of Art and Design.
Other teaching experience includes Drawing workshops in New York‚s Metropolitan Museum of Art; various workshops in British Schools (primary and secondary) teaching drawing; a residency (1999) at Kilve House, Somerset, teaching drawing to ŒA‚ level students on an intensive residential course and teaching GCSE level courses in Philosophy and Social Education at a British school in Cyprus (2001-2002).
Exhibitions to date include various solo and group shows in Glasgow and Nottingham (1993-1998), including Earthworks‚ at the Newbery Gallery, Glasgow, and Under the Skin‚ at the Real Art Gallery, Nottingham. Two group shows in New York (1999-2000) and a solo show, "A Leap of Faith" in the Municipal Gallery, Limassol, Cyprus (2000)
Jac is pursuing a PhD research degree in contemporary drawing practice with Loughborough University. The research strategy involves a synthesis of her own art practice and social science research methodology, within the wider context of a philosophical enquiry. The methodological framework of the project draws on a hermeneutically based analysis of drawings that are generated from direct audio recordings and transcribed texts taken from casual conversation. The project is concerned with the relationship between art practice and the ways in which we achieve meaningful understandings about our world. It seeks to demonstrate, through a visual interpretation of verbal interaction, that drawing can be an effective research too with which to approach these issues and also others that are not necessarily within the field of fine art.
She is also devising a series of lectures and workshops based on her research into drawing practice. The first of these series, based on an earlier project entitled Mapping the Map‚ was recently piloted at Veritas University of Art and Design in Costa Rica (2002) and SACI in Florence (2003).
More of Jac's work can be viewed at: www.jacsaorsa.com.