About the art - Charcoal Drawings
Anonymous female figures, smoking cigarettes, lamps without shades and the high contrast of black and white create a mystery and tension in my work that is inspired by classic film noir of the 40’s and 50’s. In using the symbols and gestures of the film medium I hope to create in charcoal a sense of psychological isolation and apprehension that represents the anxiety experienced by all of us in our alienating world of technological sociability.
I envision the scene for each work by doing a series of quick graphite sketches. I use these sketches to stage a pseudo film still with models and settings that I then photograph. I use these photographs as reference for the final charcoal drawings.
"Leah Biggs is the mistress of the ambiguous. Whether it is the fragmentary narrative of her charcoal drawings or the disconnected lines of her ink sketches an intriguing mystery pervades her imagery. Each line implies a story but thwarts the satisfaction of a conclusion. Stacks of luggage, a phone left off the hook, well-worn boots tossed aside all pique our interest but leave us apprehensive, unsettled perhaps even fearful. Taking inspiration for her still life from objects found, gifted or purchased in Vintage shops Biggs’ quick, stark, spontaneous and expressive gestural ink sketches achieve an astonishing verisimilitude with a quality of animated disengagement that is inspired.
In contrast, the process of creating her large charcoal works is carefully studied. These works do not reproduce particular film stills or stars. Rather they evoke the mood of pessimism, fatalism and menace that pervaded the cinematographic style of the classic film noir of the 40s and 50s and transform it into the alienation and hyper reality of postmodern life. Utilizing the skills and methods of film making, Biggs self-consciously appropriates the general styles, gestures, and stereotypes of cinema melodrama when sketching her storyboard, staging the scene, costuming the model and photographing the vignette. From her photographic references of anonymous players and barren rooms her carefully drawn charcoal works shift the context from a pleasurable encounter with mainstream cinema and nostalgia for bygone eras to a deeper contemplation of our isolation and loneliness in a world of technological engagement."
Lynn Ruscheinsky, PhD