of English literature John Maynard, PhD, is the author of Browning's Youth
(Harvard University Press, 1976), Charlotte Bronte and Sexuality (Cambridge
University Press, 1984), Victorian Discourses on Sexuality and Religion
(Cambridge University Press, 1993), Browning Re-Viewed (Peter Lang, 1998),
Literary Intention, Literary Interpretation, and Readers (Broadview Press,
2009), and other works.
are 4 questions and answers from his conversation with Dmitry Borshch:
One more on theme:
"The Good Arab?" seems to me both a stereotype and an attempt to
rethink a stereotype. Do you know which,
or what else, you had in mind?
Good Arab?" was drawn earlier than "Waterboarding of Abu
Zubaydah", "Bush-Maliki News Conference. Baghdad, December
2008", and "Odalisque in Red Satin Pantaloons (after Matisse)",
all of which in 2012 were exhibited at the Institute of Oriental Studies
(Институт востоковедения Российской Академии Наук) in Moscow. The Institute's director, Vitaly Naumkin,
assured me that when he calls these works examples of New Orientalism, he is
not denigrating me as Edward Said denigrated Gérôme and other orientalists,
whom he accused of sympathizing with or aiding various colonialist
projects. I was grateful for that
assurance. One may regard Jean-Léon
Gérôme's orientalism (and some other artist's occidentalism) as a species of
exoticism. If an artist is not drawn to
the exotic, dryness kills his art. New
Orientalism has overcome exotization of Arabs and other peoples of the
Orient. I have never exoticized or
stereotyped anyone -- that would artificially limit my depictions -- so the
question of stereotyping appears to me irrelevant.
Your style has an
exceptional maturity; we know many a very good artist by their ability to
create works that speak of their creators very clearly. I think I would recognize one of your
drawings anywhere. Did you build a style
in some conscious way? I am especially
struck by, if I may, the Russian doll quality of some of your works: that is,
we have a major image but all the parts, with their wonderful lines, create
other images, arabesques or apparent subjects, themselves? Do you think of this as a picture that fights
against its parts, a coherent nest of meanings, merely a decorative style?
have always avoided mere decoration, unlike Matisse, and coherence is central
to my efforts as a draughtsman. No style
can exist without it. Style-building, or
development of style, entails making coherent one’s natural preferences. Teachers should ask those students who are
interested in building their own styles, "Do you prefer quill pens and
sepia ink or colored pencils, hatching, cross-hatching or stippling [I have no
preference today but in my early drawings preferred not to cross-hatch], toned
watercolor paper or white illustration boards?" They should quickly add, "When these
questions and many other ones are answered, cohere your answers into a lucid,
unfragmented approach to whatever interests you: painting, medical
illustration, architectural drawing..."
Your lines are so
decisive: do you draw an overall sketch and then work up the detail, or is the
detail simply the way you build up the whole?
Do you develop many drafts or go right to the final version?
the initial tiny sketch I make as detailed a drawing as I can and gradually
reduce the number of details until clarity and pictorial balance -- which you
understood as decisiveness -- are attained.
This gradual process usually lasts five drafts.
Let's talk influence:
you write about Chagall who obviously shares your ethnicity (and he did become
something of an American in his reception).
Yet his technique seems very different: did you work through him in your
development? Do you shadow his work in
I have never been attracted to his style or themes: he often depicted shtetl
life, I try to depict contemporary subjects.
But Chagall's art and Jewishness are inseparable, Robert Hughes once
called him "the quintessential Jewish artist of the twentieth
century". If someone calls me
that, which is doubtful, I would be pleased.