Above, L-R: Yvonne Estrada, LD6-07; Anna Atkins, Himanthalia Lorea; Eduardo Souto de Moura, Silo Norte Shopping
In recent years, drawing has assumed an expanded and more independent role in the art world. For a long time, drawing was seen by many as a transitional phase in the creative process, leading to the eventual production of a larger piece, for example a painting or a sculpture. But today, drawings’ subjects are not limited to figures or landscapes; in fact, it seems that contemporary drawing is fascinated with dealing with the nature or essence of drawing itself. In Yvonne Estrada’s recent works, collectively titled Blue, abstract ultramarine and cobalt forms are produced that have a painterly element to them. The painterly element of this group of images comes from the use of blue gouache and watercolor, in some cases running down the image in streaks. Multiple drawing instruments are employed—graphite, felt and ballpoint pens—while techniques like crosshatching, contour lines, circles and scribbles create dimension, tonal value and texture, features generally associated with drawing. The gestural markings are simple and layered from thick to thin lines to build up a biomorphic image. Estrada is crossing media boundaries with her combinations of painting and drawing methods.
At times, her abstract forms are organic, and may resemble a flower bud or a leaf. In a way, the images are reminiscent of cyanotypes, not only because of the strong use of blue but also because of cyanotypes’ early history as a way to depict organic specimens. For a counterexample, look at the images of Anna Atkins. Atkins’ technique makes details lessen, so the image is an outline of the flora. This is not the case with Estrada, however, whose forms are not necessarily flowers or leaves—in fact, they are complex abstract shapes with intricate detail. In an interview with Stephanie Buhmann for The Villager, Estrada explained that the blue of these works is a nod to architectural blueprints.
“I always wanted to work with architectural blueprints, as I love their powdery, purplish blue lines,” she said. “In some ways these works reflect my affinity for these documents.”
But there are no rectilinear forms to see in her work; the only evidence of a blueprint is the way all forms connect to one another on the paper, creating a cohesive shape. Still, while Estrada’s images are abstract and at times have an unfinished quality about them, there is order to the chaos, even if her shapes look randomly placed. Every spot, stain, smear or streak Estrada makes is calculated. A large work can take up to six months to a year to complete.
In one way or another, everyone has participated in the medium of drawing; still, to see the theme of nature explored in a different way is always appealing. The labor-intensive shapes of Estrada’s Blue present an intimate and personal view of nature that is much appreciated after the development of construction teams working on images together, as in the drawings emanating from Robert Longo’s studio. No matter what style of drawing the viewer may enjoy, there is something for everyone since the medium is unrestricted, and this is a reason drawing is filling up museum and gallery walls. Yvonne Estrada’s work represents just one more way that drawing is developing.