I draw with closed eyes. My closed eyes allow me to take a break from the relentless visual processing required by our contemporary technological culture and visual-material world.
Enabled by the drawing process, my inner journeys navigate a strange geography where areas of the paper activate specific sites on the mental landscape, unearthing what has been dormant or lost, and reclaiming or earthing it. By closing my eyes I relinquish familiar methods of control, but gain access to ways of seeing and experiencing I could not have anticipated. For San rock artists the rock face represented a veil between tangible reality and the spirit world. Paper and charcoal have for me become mediating vehicles between inner and outer, visible and invisible worlds.
The idea of drawing with closed eyes developed over many years. Night-drawings in the wilderness – sleepless from malaria drugs – initiated the process. The comforting stillness and inner connection experienced through different meditative practices, paved the way to a reflective form of drawing. Encounters with Betty Edwards’ blind contour drawings, and quietly arresting art works such as Kathy Prendergast’s “City Drawings”, Willem Boshoff’s “Blind Alphabet”, and Mark Rothko’s colourfields among others, encouraged me to follow my own inner path within the realm of art, allowing the process to speak for itself. I felt drawn to intuitive processes that my intellect could not grasp.
What is it that defies our understanding? What is it that keeps eluding our grasp? Blind-spots, with their evasive power, can also be regarded as a kind of veil, temporarily obscuring what lies beyond the boundaries of our current understanding, perceptive ability or world view. Fear and prejudice may prevent us from acknowledging our limitations, thereby rendering - what should only be a veil - obstructive and impermeable. While our understanding may be limited at any given time, our ability to learn has transcending power to unveil what has been obscured.
My self-imposed blindness has opened new ways of seeing for me. By allowing myself an inner space to be, to feel, to reflect, to process, grieve and integrate, I reclaim my inner being and with it the ability to face my outer reality anew.
Hiltrud Aliber (von Seydlitz) has a background in the practice and teaching of ceramics, but has always wanted to draw. She was born in the 60’s in Johannesburg, South Africa, which she still calls her home. Her first solo exhibition was held at Spaza Gallery in October 2012.