Negev Crater Reworked and Sandblasting 1983-86, 1983-1986
graphite on wove paper
152.5 x 126.4 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 30489)
© Bill Vazan
This drawing comes as much from Bill Vazan's interest in geography and human technology as from autobiographical sources. It is based on a trip the artist made to Israel, where he visited Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev desert (near Be'er Sheva'). The area contains three craters, the largest 40 kilometers long, and is considered unparalleled in the richness of its geological formations. The layers of desolate landscape literally reveal the region's geomorphologic evolution. A second source for this work is the irrigation networks that serve to reclaim both desert and swamp land for agriculture. The drawing makes evident the artist's attraction to lines on the land, both human and natural. It can also be read as a self-portrait: the outlines of a face, as well as a throat and lungs, seen to the lower left, perhaps express Vazan's concern for the effects on his health of the silica dust he had recently encountered while sandblasting a drawing into a rock.