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Artist Spotlight: Darien Crossley

Drawing is like therapy for Darien Crossley. She expresses herself through pen and ink. With her meticulous technique she patiently draws dense lines. She gives shape to outlandish figures with abstract features. They are mainly feminine, and Darien focuses on their distorted features: sometimes they are not fully formed, they lack bodyparts or have too many. Bodyparts separate or unite. Bodies that stretch and expand.

“I focus on the emotions I feel, on the physical presence in my body and I try to express them”.

Drawing is a meditative practice. The viewer can feel this introspective aspect, equally identifying themselves with the illustration and making them their own. Everyone has a dark side, and as Darien says, “I hope the spectators can benefit from my drawings and understand that they are not alone”.

Her drawings have the simplicity and lightness of cartoons, but mysterious at the same time. The darkness appears in her dreams. Sometimes her subconscious is expressed in the most absurd ways, and this is another source of inspiration for her stories. Initially she was keeping an illustrated dream journal. Later she experimented with other media.

After using watercolors she returned to black and white for her latest work called ‘Good Spirits’.Darien is fascinated by the idea of the presence of ancient spirits around us. Good spirits that make our existence on earth magical and more interesting. She is of the opinion that although we do not know how to interact with spirtis, they must be respected.

To find a better understanding of Darien’s work we might need to look at the contemporary Japanese performance Butoh. Darien explains, “Living in Asheville, a little town in North Carolina which is a quite conservative state, I learned that there are very few Butoh instructors in America. And one was teaching in a studio two doors over from were I was working!”

Thanks to the coincidence, Darien’s art work closely connects with the Japanese culture. The restlessness, the strangeness, the focus on the naked bodies can all be found in this mixture of dance, theatre and improvisation. Like Butoh her art work can be defined in many ways: physical, spiritual, cathartic, liberating.

Currently at Pilotenkuche, Darien is working on a sort of personal diary, similar to comics. In one of her drawings deals with the feeling of being outside of a social group and suddently sinking into a thousand layers. There is always the balance between comic and darkness, almost oscillating between the two sides of the being. How will it be interpreted by observers? Which side of theor existence will it emphasise?

It is a continuous investigation of herself and her body. Darien is also a tattoo artist and her figures are engraved on her skin as a clear symbol of identification. But there is another unexpected side to Darien. she also works as a songwriter. She plays different instruments and accompanies them with a delicate voice. Melancholy is likely to be read through the lyrics and the notes of her electronic folk music. She will be performing at the Grateful Park vernissage on 20 September.

written by Silvia Zandomeneghi



Saturday 17 August 

Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig


Friday 20 September
performances by:
Darien Crossley
Adam Tuch
Tom Austin

Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9