El Sueño de la Razón Produce Monstruos
On Julie Hayward´s Drawings
Barbara Wally

Since her early days as an artist, Julie Hayward has produced an oeuvre that ranges from ceramic works to sculpture, to object and installation. Clay, the first material she worked with, has been replaced by a number of different, partly traditional and partly unusual materials. These artistic materials have gained increasing importance as she has continued to develop her themes. Such "means" are strategically employed by the artist to evoke memories, paradoxical emotions or ones that are difficult to control, connotations and irritations, or to expand the semantic levels of her work.

At the same time, she has created drawings, especially lately, which the artist has hardly shown up until recently. She kept them à l’abri, under cover, as it were, isolated from her other works – they are not geared to the public. In her work catalogs and the material she presents to experts, she shows her drawings strictly detached from the catalogs of her three-dimensional pieces. Even if she is becoming more aware of the importance of her graphic works within her oeuvre as a whole, she feels that her drawings have something disconcerting about them; she is also not able to really classify them. In the meantime, more of these works are seeing the light of day. A selection of them is to be presented here.

In this presentation of drawings and objects it will for the first time become clear that the artist’s objects, sculptures and installations were always "conceived of" – even if by no means all of the drawings were translated into three-dimensional configurations. Almost all of her drawings were created on sheets of DIN A4-format typewriter paper and were executed using a "smooth" office fineliner pen, that is to say, they are not artistic works on high-quality paper. In terms of the material selected, they tend more to resemble signatures, notes, things documented on paper.

Julie Hayward describes the process by which these drawings are created as "automatic" or based on "automatism". The use of this terminology prompted some people to interpret her stance as being surrealist, while the artist herself tended, on a more psychological level, to see an affinity to Gerhard Rühm and his approach to drawing. Such references, however, cannot be drawn from Gerhard Rühm’s drawings – alone given the fact that Julie Hayward always works and thinks in primarily three-dimensional terms. Yet at the same time Julie Hayward’s drawings cannot be interpreted merely in connection with the surrealist strategies used to bring to the surface the seemingly deeply buried unconscious, i.e., trance or hypnosis, planchette, drawing blind-folded or left-handed. If one distinctive feature of "automatic" drawing is "the emergence of a thought in its original state" (J. Starobinski, "Psychoanalysis and Literature") then the original state of Julie Hayward’s ideas would in any case be clearly conceived and rationally formulated.

Hayward’s works on paper can be aligned more with the tradition of sculptural drawings following Eva Hesse and Louise Bourgeois since they are linear premonitions and preliminary formulations of three-dimensional organic-technoid "embodiments" and "materializations". Julie Hayward thus refers to her drawings mainly as "automatic" since they have no ulterior motive, have not been planned and are in a sense un-conscious. The drawings "happen" to her in an absent state which has nothing to do with the way the outer world is perceived. Instead they appear to flow from her unconscious inner world in a seemingly uncontrolled way. Often several drawings emerge in serial form, executed with great precision, i.e., with the meticulous lines of a technical drawing, or even resembling a schematic construction plan. The trace of the line, the stroke, shows no irregularities, revealing nothing about emotions, motoric "slips", speed, delays, lifting and putting down the drawing instrument, the hand, the nerves and muscles and the brain directing this process. The line drawing is perfect as if cast from a mould onto a sheet of paper and sometimes it is even difficult to see where she began and where she ended. The artist herself describes the requirements for the right "drawing state" as follows:
"To achieve this state I need absolute peace and time for nothing else. Then it often takes me hours to get into it, I toss out a number of preliminary sketches since they are not interesting. But then comes a point where something new emerges, or elements that interest me. This moment is exciting and it requires great attention so that it doesn’t vanish or it isn’t destroyed by me when I begin to think too early. The amount of time that I need to reach this point varies and depends a lot on my general condition. Sometimes things go well, then not at all. I have learned to be patient. It is like trying to catch a dream in the morning – at first one only recognizes fragments, then entire sequences and at some point several sequences one after the other, after one has assessed the fragments."

Julie Hayward’s drawings are the opposite of "incomplete", they are always executed to completion. Their accurate, complete nature recalls some of the drawings produced by feminist artists in the 1970’s in which the role of the "dapper" woman was called into question. Here Birgit Jürgenssen’s housewife drawings come to mind, also the "womanhouse" works from "The kitchen" in New York, as well as Gisela Breitling or Dottie Attie. A very distinct style, precise and cool, analytic like the magical realism, documenting from a detached perspective with a seeming nonchalance, perfect – and also with a certain static void.

Among contemporary artists, I think here of Ulrike Lienbacher who with reduced, sober outlines alludes to female figures whose hair has been accurately rendered in drawing with thousands of lines. Here the drawing seems to find use as a medium by means of which the person drawing has some control over the object depicted – and thus also of him- or herself; the object in question is often, by contrast, laden with emotions and full of tension.

Now we have arrived at the subject-matter, the themes of Julie Hayward’s drawings, and here the affinity to absurd Surrealism (also found in Gironcoli as well as in the American object artists) strikes me as being clearly visible. Using cool, distanced lines, Julie Hayward draws imaginary formations that are conceived as hybrids between life and machine and trigger off diverse connotations and irritations in the viewer. The impact of such a "monster" is heightened by the seemingly detached nature of the representation, while at the same time it increases the sense of alienation in the viewer. The formations move in empty space – nothing on the drawing sheet suggests any surroundings, a place of action. It is even questionable whether any of this has to do with action to begin with. True, the formations are endowed with all manner of antennae, sensors, instruments, limbs, communicating pipes, tentacles, wires, etc. and there are often – in the more recent drawings in particular – innumerable balls or pearls that seem to be meant for processing or transporting something. Yet the apparatuses stand still, at rest in the void of the surrounding space with all their over-laden attributes. Some of these hybrid formations are self-contained forms, lending themselves especially well to a later materialization in sculptures and objects, while others are more process-oriented, in a process of dissolution or already changing their aggregate state; that is to say, they cannot permanently materialize. A third group which is presently moving more to the fore consists of many different individual elements which suggest a diversity of possible combinations and actions.

While the drawings tend to irritate the beholder with their paradoxical void and fullness, cool rational lines and irrational representations, the threatening scenario in the objects and sculptures is further heightened by other factors: On the one hand, by the surrounding space and the often room-filling size of the objects which the beholder must walk around while heeding the tentacles, pipes, shovels and other protrusions jutting out into the room. On the other hand, the materials used which in drawings can only be alluded to by means of hatchings or similar line structures have the effect of triggering memories, feelings such as fear and daze. In the sculptures, the materials and their combinations, colors, smell and surfaces often evoke paradox connotations of the cosy and uncanny – while an intimate tone is completely absent in the drawings. The sculptures assume another dimension as a result of a subtle subversion or disregard of physical laws, such as balance, gravity, a disturbed relation of mass vs. transparency, weight vs. levity, materiality vs. immateriality. Here, too, Julie Hayward is working with volatile blends of contradictory, ambivalent and irrational ingredients which lend her objects both power and something disquieting.

Yet there is always the drawing at the beginning of all artistic work. Here the artist creates her monsters from the "sueños de la razón" (the dreams of reason).

Printed in:
Julie Hayward, Skulpturen und Zeichnungen / Sculptures and Drawings, self-publication, Vienna 2005, ISBN 3-200-00322-7