F O R M   IN   M O V E M E N T

Rendering a three dimensional form as a drawing requires observing the object from separate angles and compiling the individual views into a single composite image.

Willie Young’s 2012 drawings allow observers to see this process first hand. Whereas some objects are drawn with the appearance of resting on a surface, others seem to be caught momentarily gliding across the page’s empty space, an effect most dramatically observed when the drawings are displayed as a group. Each drawing featured below acts as a single frame in a video that shows how Willie Young's forms take shape through motion.

Young’s use of highlight to define movement is unique. Rather than using deep shadows to outline a figure, the movement created by the space around Young’s forms alongside a thin visual line delineates the form’s outline through highlight.



One hallmark of a Willie Young drawing is the prominent role of negative space surrounding the object. This series from 2012 was inspired by small chicken bones and bird beaks that the artist kept as trinkets to hold and manipulate with his hands. The forms flex and contract as they are suspended in space to provide the artist close examination of the objects’ particulates.



Artwork drawn in a series provides an opportunity to better contextualize the way repeated forms expand the movement of a single artwork across several drawings. In the below grouping, the length-wise division of the individual bones becomes more important to the composite form as the formal break orients the object in relation to the viewer. 



The creation of abstract forms relies on the definition of space around an object. In drawings sometimes interpreted as Young's surrealist landscapes, a horizon line anchors the drawing's shapes. Suspending the forms, as the artist does in these later works, allows the drawings an additional degree of abstraction and uncertainty in identifying the original object. 

For example, this suspended form is a glimpse at singular works that stands alone. Although a hole burrows through the form, the finished edges indicate that the artist views the work as a final form.



While movement traditionally refers to the compositional flow of an image, in regard to Willie Young, movement also references the way in which a composed figure floats in space. Formal aspects of the figures range across Young’s artwork, but his consistent method of defining movement through shadow and highlight is best exemplified through these 2014 drawings.



If Young's drawings mimic verbal language, rotation functions as the visual sentence structure that his illusions of form and movement hinge upon. For example, a translation of the drawing to the left along a horizontal axis allows the artist to examine the form from the opposite perspective, as shown in the drawing below. Young's use of highlight and dark space visually orients the form during his manipulations across drawings.



Despite the small scale of the drawings, Young’s abstracted forms express monumentality through unwavering lines. The figure’s confident position squarely in the center of the drawing stabilizes the form, a difficult illusion given the drawing’s base recedes into a rounded vanishing point.

Have a question about Form in Willie Young's artworks? Reach out to Tanner | Hill Gallery.
Provide your name and email address if you would like a personal response. Anonymous questions will be answered as well. We'll post all of the questions and answers as part of the exhibit.