Drawing, specifically Line, is absolutely critical, is foundational to Chris Byrd’s studio practice. So critical, in fact, that Line becomes the primary subject matter. It is the main character and the common denominator, the indispensable formal device, and the guiding principal to build structure and create the composition. Furthermore, the act of compiling line alludes to a general idea of using systems, and here, an important connection is made between the idea of utilizing kinds of systems that we employ in our daily lives, which allow us to function more efficiently, with a parallel act of employing a model or mechanism for the use of making works of Art. Whether it is something as basic as using a ledger book to balance one’s bank account for example, or something far more complex, we use systems to organize, break-down, and simplify information in order to approach, manage, and accomplish some task, to make an Abstract entity more clear, understandable, and concrete.
The exhibition title From Observation is a reference to the practice of representational drawing from direct visual observation, aka Life Drawing. One way that we may learn and acquire knowledge is through observation. It is used here, however, in a slightly subversive, tongue-in-cheek manner, playing with the definition of the act, or end use of observation. Rather than using a subjugated type of line in a conventional observational manner to depict a “life-like” image, a straight-forward, enlarged “band” type of line is used to produce a pared-down, elemental form of drawing. This elemental type of line refers directly to the pure formal language of Art and the repetition of this line, this systemization of language, is indicative to our contemporary existential position; observation is different now, it is distrustful and predatory in our digital age of perpetual algorithms and cookies tracking online movement. Drawing from observation now and transcribing experience into the hand-made language of Art today seems almost counter-observational or more abstract than ever. It is still, nevertheless, a reality check that continues to ground thought and action in honesty and truth, an affirmation of the real rather than a shadowy, fictitious depiction of life.