Working from the figure is the basis of classic, academic drawing. But more importantly, the presence of the model allows for a hard-to-define energy to seep into the creative process. My favorite term for this mysterious force is duende.
El duende is the spirit of evocation. It comes from inside as a physical/emotional response to music. It is what gives you chills, makes you smile or cry as a bodily reaction to an artistic performance that is particularly expressive. Federico García Lorca first developed the aesthetics of Duende in a lecture he gave in 1933, “Play and Theory of the Duende”—
‘All that has dark sounds has duende.’ And there’s no deeper truth than that.
Those dark sounds are the mystery, the roots that cling to the mire that we all know, that we all ignore, but from which comes the very substance of art. ‘Dark sounds’ said the man of the Spanish people, agreeing with Goethe, who in speaking of Paganini, hit on a definition of the duende: ‘A mysterious force that everyone feels and no philosopher has explained.’
So, then, the duende is a force not a labour, a struggle not a thought. I heard an old maestro of the guitar say: ‘The duende is not in the throat: the duende surges up, inside, from the soles of the feet.’ Meaning, it’s not a question of skill, but of a style that’s truly alive: meaning, it’s in the veins: meaning, it’s of the most ancient culture of immediate creation….
Seeking the duende, there is neither map nor discipline. We only know it burns the blood like powdered glass, that it exhausts, rejects all the sweet geometry we understand, that it shatters styles and makes Goya, master of the greys, silvers and pinks of the finest English art, paint with his knees and fists……..
The duende….Where is the duende? Through the empty archway a wind of the spirit enters, blow….., in search of new landscapes and unknown accents: a wind with the odour of a child’s breath (sic), crushed grass, and medusa’s veil, announcing the endless baptism of freshly created things. Translated by A. S. Kline © 2004
We will continue working from the figure in the next few sessions. If we are lucky perhaps the duende join us.