Art of Space

Draw­ings by ar­chi­tect An­toine Pre­dock

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - Paul Wei­de­man

An­toine Pre­dock took to draw­ing and paint­ing like an ar­chi­tect to form-mold­ing. Bet­ter known as the de­signer of spec­tac­u­lar build­ings, Pre­dock has a predilec­tion for tak­ing pen to pa­per that is ex­u­ber­antly dis­played in Draw­ing Into Ar­chi­tec­ture: The Sketches of An­toine Pre­dock, just out from Univer­sity of New Mexico Press — and in the re­lated ex­hi­bi­tion, Draw­ing Into Ar­chi­tec­ture: Sketches and Mod­els by An­toine Pre­dock, on dis­play through Oct. 2 at the Albuquerque Mu­seum.

“I loved the power of the ges­tu­ral act in paint­ing,” Pre­dock said in a dis­cus­sion of his univer­sity days. “Later when I would talk to stu­dents about it, I started call­ing it the in­no­cent mark. I’d say, ‘Hey, you guys, when you sign your name, it’s pretty free, right?’ They’d nod their heads, ‘Yeah, sure,’ and I’d say, ‘Why can’t your draw­ings be as free and in­no­cent as your sig­na­ture?’

“When I had the Rome Prize and I was liv­ing in Rome, I ob­ses­sively drew the Pan­theon, and I drew it when I’d go back to Rome, and I be­gan to draw it al­most as a sig­na­ture, like I was sign­ing the build­ing, that over­whelm­ingly pow­er­ful UFO sit­ting there in the mid­dle of Rome.” The more than 150 im­ages in Draw­ing Into

Ar­chi­tec­ture in­clude rev­er­ent im­pres­sions of the Royal Palace in Bangkok, Angkor Wat in Cam­bo­dia, the Ha­gia Sophia in Is­tan­bul, and San José de Gracia Church in Las Tram­pas, New Mexico. And there are draw­ings made as part of the con­cep­tion process for his own feats of ar­chi­tec­ture, in­clud­ing the awe­some Gate­way Cen­ter and Plaza at the Univer­sity of Min­nesota (2000) with its Memo­rial Hall, “an ir­reg­u­lar poly­he­dron of col­lid­ing gran­ite planes and glazed fis­sures,” and the glassy, sky-reach­ing Canadian Mu­seum for Hu­man Rights (2014) in Win­nipeg. His sub­jects are ren­dered on a range from quite strictly re­al­is­tic to spon­ta­neously ges­tu­ral. Among the

ex­am­ples of the lat­ter are his land­scape draw­ings of China’s Tak­la­makan Desert, New Zealand’s Kaik­oura Penin­sula, and Albuquerque’s es­carp­ments.

“Pre­dock’s habit of draw­ing is in­ces­sant and pro­lific,” writes the book’s au­thor, Christo­pher Cur­tis Mead, adding that the man “has learned through years of ex­pe­ri­ence to con­dense the mul­ti­ple sen­sa­tions and ideas at hand into mem­o­rably suc­cinct col­la­tions of line and color.” Mead taught ar­chi­tec­ture and art at the Univer­sity of New Mexico from 1980 to 2013. He also au­thored Road­cut: The Ar­chi­tec­ture

of An­toine Pre­dock (UNM Press, 2011). Pre­dock told Pasatiempo that he for­ayed into art af­ter all the tech­ni­cal cour­ses in en­gi­neer­ing were ac­com­plished. This was at the Univer­sity of New Mexico in the 1950s, “with all the great teach­ers that were there. Elaine de Koon­ing was teach­ing with fol­low­ers of Clyf­ford Still from the Bay Area — in par­tic­u­lar, Wal­ter Kuhlman — and we had a fan­tas­tic teacher in sculp­ture and draw­ing, John Tatschl. UNM was re­ally a cook­ing art school.”

He re­called that when he was a young boy, he used to copy Satur­day Evening Post cov­ers and color them with crayons. “Then when I got into ar­chi­tec­ture, I re­al­ized that there was a whole other world there that I seemed to have some abil­ity in. I re­mem­ber in par­tic­u­lar be­ing taught by John Tatschl how to re­ally see some­thing when you’re draw­ing it — not just copy­ing but see­ing the in­ter­nal struc­ture, to re­ally try to pen­e­trate that thing. It doesn’t mean that it’s a clin­i­cal draw­ing — it means there’s your own spirit in it, and it’s a way of look­ing.”

Mead writes that Pre­dock’s draw­ings “make a case for the con­tin­u­ing rel­e­vance of the hand to ar­chi­tec­ture in our dig­i­tal age.” And while he’s cer­tainly keep­ing his hand in it, the ar­chi­tect th­ese days is rev­el­ing in the ges­tu­ral pos­si­bil­i­ties of the Ap­ple Pen­cil. “What I’m do­ing now is a dif­fer­ent thing. I’m do­ing dig­i­tal draw­ings, which is to­tally fun. I can do all kinds of things that I couldn’t imag­ine with what I’m used to do­ing. It’s not like us­ing ink or char­coal, but it’s en­joy­able, and it’s a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence for me.”

The Ap­ple de­vice per­mits a re­mark­able range of mark mak­ing, and Pre­dock is the kind of artist to ap­pre­ci­ate that di­ver­sity. From draw­ing to draw­ing in the book and the ex­hi­bi­tion, we see thick black lines, medium and fine lines, and the black-gray works tak­ing turns with color. Be­hind them all is an artist who strives for a de­pic­tion of essence. Some­times the re­sult can ap­pear ab­stract but, he said, “Ab­strac­tion never fully took over at all. In my ar­chi­tec­ture I deal with ab­strac­tion, but in my draw­ings ... I mean if it’s a travel draw­ing, I am let­ting the place kind of burn into my sen­si­bil­ity. I’m not go­ing to do a draw­ing of Las Tram­pas that’s un­rec­og­niz­able as Las Tram­pas. I am a doc­u­men­tar­ian in that sense of gath­er­ing im­agery from trav­els.”

And he has in­deed trav­eled. In the new book are draw­ings made in a dozen states and 30 dif­fer­ent coun­tries. He ex­plained that most of the more ex­otic lo­cales were en­coun­tered on trips re­lated to ar­chi­tec­ture jobs, “like pass­ing through the Mal­dives on the way to Hong Kong or Bei­jing. It started that way when I had a fel­low­ship ... and I did an aca­demic year in Spain in the 1960s and did a lot of travel across the Alps and over to Paris and Is­tan­bul and all over Spain.”

At the very back of Draw­ing Into Ar­chi­tec­ture: The Sketches of An­toine Pre­dock, Robert McCarter, pro­fes­sor of ar­chi­tec­ture at Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity in St. Louis, writes of the “la­conic pre­ci­sion of Pre­dock’s sketches.” Then he says the sketches “serve to re­mind us that Pre­dock is one of the very few con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tects who sees his works as fun­da­men­tally grounded, as emerg­ing from the earth, as be­ing part of the land­form, as be­ing an earth­work.” Pre­dock re­sponded, “Yeah, that’s one as­pect. It goes back to the early years of ‘Mr. Adobe,’ New Mexico earth, and I honor that time. It’s so deeply embed­ded in my

work, and I take those lessons ev­ery­where I go, but the work is much more com­plex than just com­ing out of the earth. It’s about top­i­cal­ity. It’s about what’s in the wind, what’s blow­ing in the wind in terms of ideas and what new ma­te­ri­als are on the hori­zon.”

Right now Pre­dock is wrap­ping up projects in Doha, Qatar, and in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. The former is a school of jour­nal­ism and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, part of the Ed­u­ca­tion City pro­gram that was es­tab­lished by Her High­ness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser. The Chi­nese project is sim­i­larly grand: Called Luxe Lake New Town, it’s a gate­way cen­ter with an ex­hi­bi­tion pav­il­ion, restau­rant, sem­i­nar space, and theater for a new city of 100,000 peo­ple de­vel­oped around a new lake that re­sulted from damming a small trib­u­tary. Pre­dock also just fin­ished a house in Vaisonla-Ro­maine, Provence, France. The area was named for its dom­i­nant Ro­man ves­tiges. Did he ref­er­ence those in the de­sign of the res­i­dence? “No, not in the least,” he said. “I think ar­chi­tec­ture has an au­thor­ity of its time, just as those ru­ins had, and this house has an au­thor­ity of its time. It’s very dif­fer­ent.”

How­ever, the place did fig­ure into the de­sign. “It has to do with that part of Provence, with sun ori­en­ta­tion and out­go­ing views big-time. For me, site speci­ficity is such an au­to­matic no-brainer . ... Why doesn’t ev­ery ar­chi­tect in the world do that? Why do they take bag­gage they do else­where to China or wher­ever? Fa­mous ar­chi­tects do that — they have a kind of brand, and I re­spect that, I like that, but I could never do it.” Pre­dock re­called the 12-foot col­lages of draw­ings that ap­peared in the

Road­cut show at the UNM Art Mu­seum. “Those are re­search pieces that deeply pen­e­trate a place, a place I may not have a chance to go to be­fore I begin work­ing some­times, and that kind of em­bed­ment in place is in the realm of the meta­phys­i­cal — you know, what’s the spirit of this place? What’s its deeper con­tent? And then on to the other lay­ers, start­ing with ge­o­logic time and mov­ing up­wards through the hu­man oc­cu­pa­tion of place, and those strata pop­ping out into the 21st cen­tury, with Twit­ter and McDon­ald’s wrap­pers blow­ing along the road and what was on MSNBC last night. All that stuff is highly in­ter­est­ing and is part of my en­deavor: to pay at­ten­tion to ev­ery­thing, soak it up, and it can turn up later in the work.”

An­toine Pre­dock: Duomo, Florence, Italy 2000, cour­tesy UNM Press; above right, Pre­dock (left) and Christo­pher Cur­tis Mead, photo Mira Wood­son

Pre­dock: Canadian Mu­seum for Hu­man Rights, Win­nipeg, Man­i­toba, Canada 2011 ;top, Sac­sahuamán, Peru 2008; all sketches cour­tesy UNM Press

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.