One of my favorite artists that kept thousands of drawings and sketches is Carl Frederik Hill. He drew himself in one of his sketchbooks with a cut throat. Hill was diagnosed with hallucinations and paranoia and would ultimately die of his illness a couple of years later. I also admire 19th-century Swedish artist Ernst Josephson’s drawings and sketches. Like Hill, he became mentally ill, and suffered from severe religious hallucinations, and believed that he was God and Christ. During his life, he made drawings of a naive, strange, medieval, unknown world. His own world. Was it the world of his visions and dreams?

Artists like Hill and Josephson, and I am sure there are many others, used their art and their sketches as a way to keep their daily grip on sanity. Of course, it does not always have to be so heavy-handed or have anything to do with actual mental illness or insanity.

I’ve been a huge fan of Raymond Pettibon since the nineties. His work is more infused with humor and winks to American popular culture, the deviances of marginal youth culture, art, literature, sports, religion, politics, and sexuality. He often uses ink and paper in a comic book-like style. He explains “I was never into comic books, but I like the style. It’s shorthand for depicting reality in a way that practically everyone can understand.” So for him, it is more about depicting society in his own personal way. It is also about telling stories through images.

Before Pettibon, Philip Guston already used this particular style, at least in his later period from the sixties and seventies. He uses a more naive, broader stroke to depict cartoonish figures. They often look like members of the clan (Conspirators), but he also paints cigarette butts, light bulbs, shoes, and other more common objects. He uses “We are image-makers and image-ridden” as his new motto. Meaning that he was fed up with the so-called ‘purity’ of abstract painting. The notion that painting – or every art for that matter – only exists for itself, that there is no other meaning for existence necessary or even possible. Guston, after working with abstract expressionism for decades, disagreed and wanted to make, draw and paint images from life. Above all, he wanted to tell stories.

When I was a kid I saw an exhibition of Francisco de Goya’s series of 200 etchings called “Caprichos, Desastres, Tauromaquia y Disparates”.
The immense power of these often lugubrious engravings, depicting scenes of death, cruelty, and human insanity, had a tremendous impact on me. Goya knew the power of storytelling with images. These etchings were free from the restraint of commissions and were a biting critique of political, religious, and social mores of the time.

Over the years I have kept all my note- and sketchbooks, some with more humorous, others more conceptual ideas, but also many scribbles and visual escapades from a suggestive process or method.