David Leigh,

Pasatiempo - - David Leigh -

movie, “Bread ... that this house may never know hunger.” Mary’s strug­gle, com­pared to that of Tam­sen Don­ner’s, seems trite. And for Leigh, that’s ex­plo­sive fuel for his con­cep­tual fire.

Leigh’s draw­ings of­ten sug­gest com­edy, vi­o­lence, and sex si­mul­ta­ne­ously, and as part of his in­stal­la­tion, he de­vel­oped what he calls a gi­ant food pyra­mid. “The Don­ner Party and cer­tain as­pects re­lated to the his­tory of that time got my mind fo­cused on things like food chains, food pyra­mids, things like that.” In­stead of a pyra­mid shape, it re­sem­bles a 6-foot lad­der, and Leigh cre­ated stick­ers of an­i­mals to place on the lad­der. “I’m try­ing to or­ga­nize some of my thoughts con­cern­ing an­i­mal hi­er­ar­chies in na­ture and how hu­mans con­sume them, as well. It’s noth­ing sci­en­tific in any way — it just sort of be­comes a lan­guage game or a vis­ual game.”

Leigh, who used to work pri­mar­ily with paint, nar­rowed his fo­cus to draw­ing about four years ago and at­tributes his strong in­ter­est in this tech­nique to his love of lit­er­a­ture and lan­guage. “For some rea­son, some­thing com­pelled me to think at one time that I needed to il­lus­trate a lot of the things I was read­ing. But they were never one-to-one lin­ear de­sires, like, Oh, I’m read­ing On the Road, and now, I want to il­lus­trate On the Road. Draw­ing is sim­ply the pri­mary ve­hi­cle by which I now choose to deal with ideas.” In 2009, Leigh con­trib­uted a large-scale draw­ing to the SITE Santa Fe group ex­hibit Pretty Is as Pretty Does. It was the largest piece I’d ever made,” he said, “and there was some­thing about chang­ing the prox­im­ity at which a viewer would look at a piece. Now, more than ever, I’m re­ally in­ter­ested in see­ing the draw­ings func­tion dif­fer­ently at one foot away from the viewer as op­posed to 10 feet away.”

As Leigh works in a gallery space or in his stu­dio, he al­lows his mind to wan­der from the rote de­tails of his ini­tial in­spi­ra­tion, build­ing upon the idea like a spo­ken-word poet riff­ing about a char­ac­ter or scene. “There’s this real need ... to get ex­tremely bogged down in a cer­tain set of vis­ual in­for­ma­tion. It’s a weird way to work, be­cause it re­quires a cer­tain amount of en­durance, not only in terms of how long you can draw, but how long you want to keep think­ing about that one par­tic­u­lar thing. There’s some­thing ... strange about want­ing to ask, time and again, What ne­ces­sity drives my in­ven­tion?”

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