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Christopher Wood’s haunting visual haikus at HOUSE Gallery

Michael takes in Christopher Wood's drawing-a-day project, Frequent Exceptions, on view at HOUSE Gallery. These subtle, resonant graphite drawings pull you into a meditative state of reflection on space, tone, and the passage of time, he says.

“Daydrawing 170427,” Christopher T Wood
“Daydrawing 170427,” Christopher T Wood. Graphite and charcoal on paper, 9 x 12 inches, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist.

A drawing every day

Every day in April, Philadelphia artist Christopher Wood drew a 9″ x 12″ version of a section of a birch tree as part of his Daydrawing series, and the thirty pieces are displayed together in the shape of a wall calendar in his show which just opened at the HOUSE Gallery. Each of the drawings are composed in graphite and charcoal on paper, creating sublime variations of gray tones. They are spare, serene, and wispy. The progression through the month is almost harmonic. The installation of them, as a unity, reads like a haiku. Unlike some of the other artists who have embarked upon one-work-per-day projects, these daily drawings seem to slow time down. Each of them reminds me of a detail from one of Emily Brown’s wonderful big heart-of-the-woods ink drawings, which you may have seen at Gallery Joe.

“Daydrawings 170401 – 170430,” Christopher T Wood
“Daydrawings 170401 – 170430,” Christopher T Wood, 9 x 12 inches each, 69 x 108 inches total. Graphite and charcoal on paper. Image courtesy of HOUSE Gallery.

Manipulations of time and space

There are a number of other very different, quasi-figurative or abstract Daydrawings in the exhibition. I’ve included two images of them here to demonstrate the almost startling wide range of subjects that Wood has tackled with ingenious manipulation of positive and negative space.

“Daydrawing 170726,” Christopher T Wood.
“Daydrawing 170726,” Christopher T Wood. Graphite on paper, 9 x 12 inches, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist.

The uncanny pairing of two spare, iconic images resonates with loneliness and a sense of foreboding. In one drawing, a diver’s legs enter a dark, otherworldly sea; and in the other, what might be a Minecraft torch–or perhaps a glowing Twin Tower–shimmers in a misty nightscape.

These intriguing drawings spur bits of memory that are associated with various contemporary archetypal images, and at the same time transport you to the unfamiliar. They are invitations to speculate upon the dimensions of time and space. The drawings are mysterious, spellbinding, perhaps eerie–like photographic negatives or x-rays.

“Daydrawing 160812,” Christopher T Wood
“Daydrawing 160812,” Christopher T Wood. Graphite on paper, 9 x 12 inches, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist.

The title of the show, Frequent Exceptions, is a marriage of two concepts–frequency, referring to Wood’s daily practice, and exceptions, referring to his esoteric interest in worlds that exist beyond our capacity to observe. I’m not sure I understand the connection, but the work is unusual, challenging, and engaging.

Artists Michelle Marcuse and Henry Bermudez run HOUSE Gallery in their home in Fishtown. This exhibit, which you have to make an appointment to see, will be on display there through May 27, 2017.