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Graham Fink Advertising Creativity

Drawing with his eyes: A look at acclaimed adman Graham Fink's new tech-inspired art exhibition

By Julian Hanford |

March 19, 2015 | 4 min read

Celebrated adman-turned-artist Graham Fink is back in London with a new solo art show, 'Drawing with my eyes', at the Riflemaker Gallery. Julian Hanford went along to take a look – and some photographs.

Graham Fink is constantly restless. As a creative, his career over the years has been defined by never being entirely satisfied with the status quo, whether in the world of advertising, or now in the world of art.

His previous solo show at London’s Riflemaker Gallery in Soho last year was an initial attempt at rationalising his singular vision by exploring his lifelong habit of seeing things, and in particular faces, in other objects and on surfaces.

This year he returns with a very interesting project indeed. Drawing as performance, but utilising new technology to explore the direct application of creative vision straight from the mind.

The technology involved is based on eye-tracking software that has been developed by the marketing industry to record an audience’s retinal movements across advertising and published print work, with a view to discovering the most effective communication layouts. A new science related to neurological research.

However, Graham saw within this technology the opportunity to experiment with the way artists ‘see’.

Drawing, the fundamental principle behind most artists' practices, has never been fully understood. Some people seem to grasp the method of making meaningful marks on paper effortlessly, while a much larger proportion of us constantly struggle to draw in a way that captures what we think we see in the world around us.

Theories for the cause of this anomaly abound, of course, and particularly in the exploration of right- and left-brain thinking. Our education from childhood, which tends to be left-brain, or vertical thinking, is based on learning language and words to represent the physical world. These names become symbols that we use as visual shorthand for the things we see.

For instance, ask someone not involved in art to draw a face, and they will draw two eyes, a nose, a mouth, etc. Even if they are trying to draw a face in front of them, their symbolic tendency will be to draw their own mental abstractions of what they think they see. The results always disappoint the drawer, and so underpin their self-imposed belief that they cannot draw.

However, the face in front of them cannot and should not be broken down into symbolic shapes and shorthand. It is a unique series of planes and forms in space that should have no name. As soon as the mind grasps this, and suspends the act of left-brain labelling, anyone can make good progress to becoming competent at drawing.

The fascinating thing about Graham’s retinal drawing is that by taking away the traditional method of coordinating the hand with the eye – cutting out the middle man, as it were – it makes the above process easier. With practice, the eye traces directly onto a screen, and it is simpler to find forms and shapes that can be developed into interesting and unique artworks.

Graham's ‘finished’ drawings have a remarkably similar feel to the 2D work of Alberto Giacometti, one of the great artists and sculptors of the 20th century, and I don’t say that lightly. Check it out yourself on Google. They are bold, powerful and emotionally charged, and each one is quite unique.

Personally, I think Graham is making inroads into a very interesting area of artistic creation, and one that makes a powerful statement about human creativity’s future relationship with new technology.

'Graham Fink - Drawing with my eyes’, where you can see the artist at work, is exhibited at Riflemaker Gallery, 79 Beak Street, London W1F 9SU until Saturday 21 March.

Graham Fink Advertising Creativity

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