When I speak about how I feel, I am forming an individual. I am reaching inward, among the miasma of my interior affective life, and extracting a distinct emotional state. This state, parceled out from the vagaries of experience, of minor offenses, injuries and misperceptions, is an “individual.” It is mine to define and express.
The Pictionary Individual explores alternative approaches to figuration, with a focus on artists who work at the intersection of abstraction and figuration, taking as its cue the notion of emotional intelligence presented in Sue Campbell’s 1997 text, “Interpreting the Personal.” Campbell is concerned with the process by which lived emotional states are brought into language or “individuated,” and presents a model for collaborative individuation based on the game of Pictionary. These 15 artists (including 2 who were part of the so-called “Narrative Figuration” movement of the 1960s) each use their own subjective experience of the body—their own lived emotional state—to propose a notion of the figure that rejects an objective truth about the body. Together, they do what Campbell calls “collective individuation.” Like a game of Pictionary, in which players attempt to depict a commonly understood form, these artists tell a truth about the figure that is both unique to their lived experience and inextricably bound by the reductive codes of language.