To hone her drawing practice, Klara Hobza visits the water. Wherever she is, everyday she tries to find the closest river, lake or ocean to draw its surface.
“Water forces you not to cling to landmarks” she says, and I recall some introductory art class professor referring to drawing as “mapping”. Not here.
Hobza’s Drawing Water Workshop with the Berlin Drawing Room arose out of her deep engagement with water as subject matter in combination with a long term drawing practice. Learning to draw at 14, Hobza immediately gravitated to drawing not only as a practice for creating an image but also as a tool to see. The process of drawing as a mode of perception, as well as physical activity, is for her just as important as the outcome. By focusing on the hand-eye coordination during the act of drawing, one is effectively training the hand to see.
As we walked by the Spree in Hobza’s Kiez Friedrichshain, she remarked that her drawing practice as a teenager saved her from the anguish most people, but especially women, experience as we grow into our bodies. The practice of drawing as observation allowed her to appreciate bodies as they are and not as they should be.
While the workshop will stay on the surface, Hobza’s own practice lies many meters below. As a trained scuba diver, her current ambition is to dive through Europe allowing the Rhine river to carry her from the southeastern Alps until it empties into the North Sea. Familiar with a recreational hobby that presupposes sunny coral reefs, I could only ask “Isn’t it dark down there?” To which she responded with the many other sensory experiences one must rely on when navigating in a heavy, powerful darkness where you can see maybe a few feet in front of you. In a collaboration with Basel Thomas Geiger, Hobza is creating a number of flotation devices attached to tools and talismans that will go on the journey down the Rhine just ahead of her. The way these tools will have changed in the water will affect their use to her; that they may reach her “competent and knowing due to the river they’ve both been submerged in”. This journey through water is the stuff of classic literary imaginations and Hobza comments on this, saying much of her art is invoking imagination. “The Rhine is an art on a grand scale, a Richard Serra scale” she jokes. I suddenly become aware of the world’s greatest sculptor.
The workshop will take place by the Spree Hobza visits daily. Utilizing the tools she relies on- Charcoal, chinese calligraphy ink and brushes, students will create a close study and do quick-time sketches of three different bodies of water. They’ll work to observe the mirrored image on still water, the aspects of grey, the plasticity of shadow, and the volume and shape that are often denied of surfaces. It will be three days of instruction, conversation and observation of water and undoubtedly after my brief walk with Hobza, of art.
Post written by: Hallie Frost