Drawing, myth, and ritual
The birth of the modern subject in the West involved a transformation of temporal experience: the rate of goods production, linked to progress and technological acceleration, imposed a homogeneous and linear time. Pluralistic times—subjective, local, and individual—typical of the human, and impossible to fit into the new chronological imperialism, were left on the side lines. Lemmen’s drawings are shaped as forms of resistance to that productive and regulated time: they seek to rethink our present through the primeval, that is, outside the evolutionary framework imposed by historical and scientific accounts of Western modernity.
Omar Pascual-Castillo pointed out that Lemmen’s production generates a “mythology that defies space and time”. Indeed, his production is formulated through temporal and spatial disagreement, interwoven in the tragic aura surrounding human bonds with a primeval nature. And it is precisely in these bonds that the possibility of myth acquires a presence, never the product of a capricious invention of imagination, but inspired by man’s deep sense of fear and respect for the phenomena of the natural environment. The conceptual form of myth would therefore be the culturally primitive way of opening up to the world.
Ernst Cassirer emphasised that, in order to achieve a proper understanding of myth, one must begin by studying the ritual: the philosopher’s research showed that ritual is a deeper and more enduring element than myth, for when a human being performs a religious ritual or ceremony, he does not enter or remain in a contemplative state, but instead lives a life of emotions. Thus, the man who performs a magic ritual does not differ from the man of science who conducts an experiment in his laboratory, or from the artist who undertakes a cultural artefact. For his part, John Berger reminds us that Cro-Magnon Man was not a cave-dweller. He entered the cave to participate in certain rituals, of which we know almost nothing, although rock drawing seems to be part them.
A drawing is not important because it records what one has seen, but because of what it allows you to see. Lemmen’s drawings speak to us of many things, but also of the artist’s creative process: in his small drawings, he prepares the paper with five layers of casein on each side and then creates an abstract line that represents a horizon and that, in the end, will become the stage on which the complex spectacle of his iconography will be set. In his large drawings, the tracing of the line on paper begins with a ritual, which results in an initial mapping of emotions, “like walking on paper with paint on your feet,” the artist points out. To do this, the ritual acquires a more physical sense, through footprints of animals, plants, or even his own, as a transfer of the exterior to the interior of the work of art. In these latter pieces, the portable memory of nature is present, the haphazard traces left behind by the act of walking, the echo of the vision, as well as a hypothetical map that gives an account of the metamorphic power of the landscape.