The practice of drawing and the making of works on paper can be found at the very heart of artistic creation. The equivocality of this extremely thin, extremely adaptable medium has often turned it from mere substrate to a metaphor for thought, as well as a cultural symbol: a tool to explore or blur the boundaries between art and writing, East and West, ideas and objects.
The drawing often seems to fulfill an indexical function, incarnating, as it were, the artist’s thought process. Indeed, it has come to occupy, in the words of art critic Dave Hickey, “an equivocal position between the realms of objects and ideas”. It is this ambiguity that makes works on paper such a fascinating field of enquiry and inspires us to take a closer look.
Drawings and works on paper have been, in the past, often relegated to a marginal, supporting role, considered as the mere preparation in the lead up to the main event: the painting or sculpture.
It is interesting to note, however, that in the age of digital reproduction this particular medium has been experiencing a surge in popularity, precisely because, some argue, of the very physical relationship it engenders between the object, its creator, and the viewer.
In this exhibition we propose to consider a number of pairings of works on paper by contemporary artists hailing from different generations and geographies, in order to explore the equivocality of paper, revealing the dialogue between the very conceptual and very physical aspect of this medium.
We will consider a wide spectrum of works, from Robert Longo’s iconic photo-realistic charcoal drawings, to David Czupryn’s mimetic and hybrid materials drawn on paper, from Ed Ruscha’s prints and Paul Kneale’s scan transfers, to Rebecca Salter’s textured mixed-media on papers and Diogo Pimentão’s graphite on paper sculptures - to name but a few.
We endeavour to shed a light, through close observation and insightful pairings, on the various ways in which works on paper can simultaneously be considered as objects as well as receptacles of ideas.
The online only exhibition ‘The Realm of Objects and Ideas’ will consist of five chapters, each one released weekly over the following month.
Each installment will present a small group of artists, allowing to shine a spotlight on each, as well as on the whole.
The first chapter of the exhibition features works by Adel Abdessemed, Robert Longo, and Paul Noble.
These three artists engage with drawing as a site of resistance to, and unveiling of, overbearing - although at times concealed in plain sight - structures of power.
Adel Abdessemed is famously known for his work on the themes of violence, displacement, and loss. The energetically drawn artwork presented in this exhibition magmatically takes shape and morphs under the viewer’s eyes: are we contemplating a serene landscape, or human tragedy?
Robert Longo’s emblematic charcoal drawings similarly highlight the points of rupture in contemporary society: how do we react to news of gun violence, and why are shootings dealt with and described so differently depending on who the victim(s) and who the perpetrator(s) are?
On the other hand, the expansive drawn landscapes by Paul Noble seem to shine an objective light on their subject matter. Both his use of cavalier projection (which eliminates hierarchy and perspective), as well as lighting (the flat light of an overcast sky at noon) see to indicate fairness: as the viewer - through the act of looking - becomes the architect they feel in control. However, as they are reminded of the military cartography origins of this mapping technique, they are forced to question who is observing, and why.
As the viewer ponders these questions and the potentialities of paper they will start drawing parallels and revealing hidden constellations between these artworks and the forthcoming ones on show.
Over the following weeks we will be thrilled to reveal new and more historical works on paper by: Michael Armitage, David Czupryn, Patrizio Di Massimo, Paul Kneale, Damir Očko, Diogo Pimentão, Ed Ruscha, Rebecca Salter, and Toby Ziegler.