Yelena Bryksenkova is a illustrator from the United States, and her drawings are regularly featured in Flow. This month she’ll be writing about her work and the things that inspire her.
Reading John Fowles’ The Collector on the train yesterday, I was struck by this sentence: “When you draw something it lives and when you photograph it it dies.” Just the day before, I was prodding the depths of my heart to figure out why I feel compelled to “capture” certain places, people or objects.
When I was a teenager, encounters with beauty made me cry; with no other outlet at the time, tears felt like the only method of overcoming the unrest I felt. After some formal education in drawing and a lot of introspection, I had a better understanding of the nature of the alarm I felt: it was a kind of materialistic urgency, a need to absorb as the only possible way of dealing with perfection. As a natural born collector, I feel inclined to possess.
“Beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all,” wrote André Breton. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but how does one deal with the shock? I started keeping sketchbooks and found that drawing really is a form of possession, more satisfying than buying or having or even photographing, none of which provide me with a true appreciation of the thing I wish to possess.
In an increasingly impatient world, truly looking isn’t easy, but it’s exactly the thing that drawing demands. I feel the pain of encounters with perfect beauty on a regular basis and I hope that I always will, but man am I glad I found a way to be at peace with it, because otherwise I’d still be crying all of the time.