JF Lynch


The pictures I make are contemplations on the way we internalize language.

There are relationships between drawing and the written word that have vexed me my whole creative life. If you set pen to paper, is the letter “i” a written sound sign or a drawn glyph of a standing figure? When you look at a narrative drawing and understand the story, have you not just read the drawing?  

I primarily use charcoal for its immediacy and richness, but I also love its connection to the history of drawing as one of the first pigments. The Lascaux Caves in France sport 17.000 year-old charcoal murals.

Charcoal itself is not unlike language. It is at once bold, beautiful, potentially dangerous, and easily impressionable. The charcoal stick I hold in my hand was once timber, and before that a tree. Charcoal is an unexpected stop on that tree's journey out of existence.

In part the making of these works is a manifestation of my interest in the way a spoken language is referred to by way of symbols for sounds that have been chosen arbitrarily over centuries. Obviously both speech and writing are necessary as our primary way of communicating the world we try to understand and exist in, but when we do this, those sounds and symbols inform our perception of that real world, and in doing so, they directly inhabit it. In our perception of the world those sounds become concrete, and it is that world I want to depict.

In my pursuit of giving letters a real space (partially inspired by the book Flatland), I created a three-dimensional alphabet that could rotate in space and still be legible from different angles. This gives the letters a unique personality but also offers the opportunity to rethink the syntax and tools of writing. Like the way the letters float in the darkness in these pictures, the drawings explore the just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that is language.

Words hide inside of us waiting to emerge when sense is needed. They are the mortar in the construction of our understanding.