Central Art Gallery
North West England

Drawing as an art form has perhaps more to do with the body than any other art forms. The hand becomes the instrument of the eye. Physicality is employed as the body is drawn by the body. In drawing the senses link up from hand to arm, from shoulder to torso, from the neck to the head and ultimately, the hand to the eye. Daksha Patels drawing works explore this and, specifically, new technologies which enable us to see more than just the surface of the body but beneath the skin, through to the bone and all that this suggests to us in physical, existential and scientific terms. The works draws sensitive links between that which we can see and that which we cannot, investigated through methodical and intuitive approaches; exercises which make the artists body as much a subject for interest as the drawings it produces. Cloudy, echo traces form drawings of the backbone structure, hazed images which imprint on the visual palette after more considered looking. The ‘bone’ drawings breathe life into the skeletal structure of the body, presenting cropped fragments of our internal scaffolding. The effect of these drawings is unique, they are beautiful drawings. Not unlike a tracing being illuminated from behind, they hum with greater intent the more they are considered. The works are chaptered by methodological approach, the ‘graph paper’ drawings informed by statistics which have been translated into marks on the graph paper and subsequently organic forms. Adapting the form to fit the geometrical structure, and can this fit? Does it work? It is being made to fit. These techniques seem as much about their playfulness as they are suggestive of more fundamental questions of ethics, and the processes and functions of modern medicine. The question of the marriage of modern medicine and health is a highly personal one based on experience, we default to the medicine man and all that his technologies can provide. Daksha’s work at once embraces the new technologies which enable us to see inside the body to the smallest millimetre and also deconstructs via poetic methodology the aesthetic and moral implications of body and science, and gives priority to the body for the extraordinarily sophisticated machine that it is. The imagination is given over to physicality. Once the methodological approach to each piece has been set Daksha ritualistically gives her body to the process of drawing. Two pieces which are executed with a bundle of pencils from an x-ray image show the greatest degrees of physicality of all the pieces. The drawings are more energetically pronounced, visceral and alluding to emotive states of the body and psyche such as sexuality and aggression. The blue skeleton drawing is the live trickster of the series and red skeleton drawing its bloody twin, frantic with movement. Daksha Patel was removing herself from the studio whilst drawing the pieces, physically leaving the space to return, see anew and be in a new position to consider when each piece would be finished, ‘Only by looking in this way was I able to know when to stop’. Drawings are the most ephemeral of art pieces in terms of execution, knowing when a drawing is finished is more important than any other aspect of its process. And Daksha’s pieces appear fully wired into their beginning and end radiating the liveliness of their execution. Daksha Patels work explores the notion that looking is equated with knowing, and especially within medical science this is particularly apparent, and the pieces take this notion from all angles and flip it inside out. Sight has a history, you see what you know to be there. Daksha embraces this notion with awareness and wisdom and has executed a series where she has avoided as much eye contact as possible with the drawing. What happens if we are drawing the body with the body without looking? The work becomes about the body and not looking, or a different kind of looking. A ‘feeling looking’ rather than a physical, ‘retinal looking’ emphasising the sense of knowing without having seen, as we often know things to be present without having seen them. ‘I am trying to draw what cannot be seen, these are all different attempts to do that’ There is a tautological strand to the work, a repetition of looking, or not looking and flipping things around, looking at them again. The body is crucial in the work, not just the representations but specifically the artists body, which functions as the eye, feeling what cannot be seen, or in some instances, can be seen and marking this down, specifically without intellectual consideration but suggestive of the primeval instinctual function of us knowing ourselves and our physicality. As we are living and working in spaces which mean we do not have to move significantly, our physicality is reduced and we are becoming less in touch with our physical selves, often our bodies completely separated from our thinking, our ‘being’. Daksha’s work is redressing a balance and paradoxically, ironically through consideration of new technologies ways of looking.

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