Drawings for Orbis Pictus
Charcoal drawings and text for Orbis Pictus - both by Jo Cook, inspired by the book by Czech philosopher Jan Amos Comenius (1592-1670.)
ORBIS PICTUS : Jan Amos Comenius (1592-1670) A Czech philosopher, teacher and humanist, was the founder of a visual teaching method for children. He called the book he wrote Orbis Pictus. Notes for Orbis Pictus: I began the black charcoal drawings on the four elements. No longer knowing a way to draw the human figure, I began to express that not-knowing in abstract drawings. Georgia O'Keefe's early charcoal drawings had inspired me with their fluidity and their tremorous edges.. Her forms were so open that I felt enveloped by their softness. I wanted to find a way of drawing that had an equally sensuous softness but that also possessed an equal energy of edge. "To safe guard the spontaneity of the human hand,"Dubuffet wrote, "It is necessary to deciberate the gesture, and the regard. This amounts to cultivating inattention, to placing glimpsing above all else..... Children have a particularly vagabond regard." The initial sketches for the drawings for Orbis Pictus emerged after an afternoon spent drawing with Kaitlin, who is 4 years old. Later that day day I noted in my journal something Denise Levertov had written about H.D.: She showed me a way to penetrate mystery; which means not to flood darkness with light so that darkness is destroyed, but to enter into darkness, mystery so that it is experienced. This seems a good description of Georgia O'Keefe's drawings and what I wa working towards myself. In the spring I spent a month travelling through France and Spain. One morning on a fourth balcony, in a small pension in Barcelona, I felt the space below me open up like the spaces in early Medieval paintings. How to incorporate this sense of space in my drawings? Some of the pastel drawings are about that morning in Barcelona. The problem of drawing is both physical and metaphysical, it seems. The same way life is. I find my drawings have a common sense of process that contrasts with the solid state I feel is present in my paintings. There are hundreds of glimpses, decisions, attentions, and inattentions present in these drawings. So much secret material embedded when soft charcoal strokes faintly flesh-coloured paper. Jo Cook, July 1989