The Drawers - Charles Bronson   Commentary written by Headbones

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Confined to a place that rests uneasily between the world of visual arts and some “8x10” cell in the United Kingdom, Charles Bronson's drawings are trying to get out. These drawings can be considered to be on a parallel discourse to the life of the man, himself. Bronson is sentenced to life in prison and is awaiting parole. Solitarily confined for twenty seven years and given minimal art supplies, the artist has created these powerful drawings that depict the life and world of a caged “Madman.”

Bronson's drawings tell stories of what it is like 'inside', and for an Outsider, they are compelling. His depictions do not appear to be only about his interpretation from inside the cell or whatever prison he happens to be in, but, also from inside his mind. Charles has created his own vocabulary and identifiable style. Imagery such as closed circuit television cameras, brick or block walls, cracked or broken eggs, birds, turtles, insects, rodents, bald men, ropes, nooses and chains - repeated from drawing to drawing - form the artist's signature. And, like any good story teller, the metaphors abound.

A creative freedom exists in a place where liberties are few. Anything goes when transcribed to paper. Freedom of expression resonates between the walls of Charles Bronson's drawings. With rules crying to be broken, the crimes can and do exist on the artist's page.

An interesting juxtaposition occurs in the drawings where content and style contrast each other. From the context of solitary prison confinement, the pencil work seems to have a therapeutic sense and to exude meditative and soothing qualities. The drawings are sensitive when relating to the palette, line and pencil work. A point of transition then takes place with obsessive controlled coloring. Then by contrast, the imagery is abrasive, forceful, provocative and even gruesome.

Are crimes still being perpetrated? The jury is deliberating on ten of Charles Bronson's prison drawings; on trial, at Headbones Gallery, Toronto.

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