John Ebbert Drawings · The Installation

My Face Lies · Drawings List (PDF)



John EbbertI have often been intrigued by erasures made in masters' drawings. When Ingres moves a hand or DaVinci reconfigures the gestures of a baby one assumes decisions have been made for the better. These changes may not only point to artistic choices, but can often suggest motion and volumetric possibilities absent in the finished paintings made from the studies.

While not pretending to be master studies, the autoportraits, blind self portraits, shown here seek to establish the elements of change as their basis. These blind gesture drawings, taking maybe 5 minutes for each stage, done one stage a day for about a week - I often lose track of what day it is - are intended to be erased at the beginning of the next day’s session. Mere traces are left behind as evidence as the drawing moves on. Satisfying results are often sacrificed in favor of less successful renderings on subsequent days and a feeling develops that resolution is never a permanent state.

Blind gestures internalize the process of drawing. How the hand works relative to the movement of the eyes, the internal circuitry, and attention span produces curious results. Drawn shapes tend to expand and contract as concentration wavers. Such inconsistencies when applied to a face have special significance.

Facial recognition is hardwired into the human circuitry. The ability to read true or faked emotions in a face is a survival skill that everyone possesses to an extent. Portraits therefore evoke automatic physical responses. Looking at a drawing one might say that an artist has "really captured the personality of the sitter." Blind auto portraits however shortcircuit these intentions. Unintentional distortions always reveal something unexpected. A face well known gives way to unrecognizable characteristics.



John Ebbert grew up in Shaler Township just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He received a BA degree in drawing and painting from Pennsylvania State University in 1987 and became an art director overseeing multiple monthly publications in the Washington, D.C. area before returning to his art studies. In 1997 he graduated with an MFA from Pratt Institute, earning an award for excellence in painting.

In 2001 Ebbert created John Ebbert Creative in Brooklyn providing illustration, rendering, design and consulting services for large-scale environments and displays with clients including FAO Schwarz, ToysRUs, Times Square, Scholastic Books and Tiffany's among others.

In 2004 he moved his business to Greenville, New York where and his wife (also an artist) now live and work. Ebbert was in the gallery's group show, Elegy (March 9 - April 7, 2013) when he exhibited his Love & War sculpture and several of the corresponding Love & War carousel drawings. This is Ebbert's first solo show with the gallery.