The Drawers - Ben Woolfitt   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Situation, Positioning, Location

The drama of a thunder storm with forks of lightening, the dense dark muffle of graphite with the impressions of leaves, netting and threads forming map-like areas over which silver clouds lurk or spinning tornadoes whisk upwards to explode like fireworks - Ben Woolfitt's drawings evoke rather than depict.

When coal dust is rubbed until it turns silver, alchemy is at work. Ben Woolfitt's wizardry runs through his practice. In the early dawn light he opens his great book and sparks ignite with the rubbing and scribing of abstract diagrams. The result begs to be deciphered as if the dark, rubbed impressions are pulsing beneath the surface of the paper, a nether illumination. There are illusions to magic in the imagery as well, the poof of the wand, a strike of lightening as cosmic forces come into play or the faint light cast by an elfin leaf glowing with fairy dust. There are stellar associations, sci-fi and x-ray perceptions. Art, comparable to the philosopher's stone, is the transformative tool that changes base matter into gold. Ben Woolfitt turns graphite into silver. From his early morning consciousness, he plants the seeds of impending dusk. These works, torn from the binding of the daily-kept journals of images (each morning, as the cities sleep, he records the nuance of dreams beginning to cool) are like an anthropologist's link to an undiscovered civilization or the interpretations of a priest as he ponders the resurrection.

The drawings shed. The graphite is still fresh and falls on the handlers. The pages have a brittle aspect as if they have been rubbed enough and can take no more manipulating or as if they are black and blue from bruising. Their surface is nearly reflective for Woolfitt has burnished the surface until it glows like coal before it ignites into flame. They are poetic pieces. They demand a poetic explanation. They beg for protection.

This is an abstract moment, a confrontation with sorcery funneling the inclination to make sense of natural phenomena. The work thrills with the materials. The silver foil glitters. The pencil ensorcells. The situation is difficult to pin down, the positioning is abstract and the location is universal.

Copyright 2006,  Headbones Gallery, The Drawers