Sunday, February 22, 2009 n

Recently went to the opening of ' n'. Ignoring the now predictable definitions of drawing that seem to be inescapable in any drawing based show the pieces on display were high quality and interesting.

Three China based artists Liao Yang (Shanghai), Wang Chao (Hangzhou) and Nial O'Connor (Shanghai).

Found Nial O'Connor's paintings fascinating because they were displayed with the doodles around the outside of the edge of the finished cartoon graffiti based realistic images. Giving these works a contrast between the free gestural expression of the not normally for show marks on the border of the paper and the tight but equally expressive though more laboured 'finished' water colour pieces in the centre of the paper. The visual stimuli of his work being, street China but in a style referencing manga and graffiti. I liked how on one piece the surrounding doodles appeared to move into a completely different train of thought from the image being painted - joyful creative tangents.

Wang Chao's animation 'Shudra' reminded me of William Kentridge with its smudgy charcoal stop animation. But, Wang Chao's work had a sound track of industrial electrical sounds, the empty unfriendly city with fear and uncertainty around every corner, the urban dystopia. The black and white animation started bleeding with the official red chop that is inescapable from everyday Chinese life: A powerful tool validating papers of various persuasions bleeding into every corner from Starbucks receipts to validating identity.

Liao Yang's carefully detailed drawings of Chinese workers were comic and insightful containing piety and hilarity - a modern day Hogarth. Liked the almost etched liked quality of each line in Yang's work using white as a highlight alongside pencil.

Show is on until 5th March

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mia Pearman and Gareth Bell-Jones

On entering the Centre for Recent Drawing's intimate space, I was pleasantly stunned by Mia Pearlman’s Eye - a giant swirl of cut and inked paper, lit from below, casting shadows, as it expanded onto the ceiling and walls. This work had instant appeal with an energy akin to Pop Art, in particular Lichtenstein’s Wham. Along side responding to Pearlman’s site-specific installation, were Gareth Bell-Jones's arduous but carefully cut drawings.

Both artists employ the knife as their drawing tool: the drag of the blade through paper to generate a negative space. Like conventional drawing, where the mark activates the ground, the cut also activates the ground and has a direct relationship to the remaining white paper. The empty cut areas, in both Pearlman and Bell-Jones’s work, allowed us to see the white walls of the gallery behind it and the paper of the drawing cast a traceless shadow on to the walls, creating a sort of negative double of the physical drawing but appearing in shadow. Bell-Jones’s drawings reflect bright and luminous colour present on the reverse of the front facing white ground, producing colour that is not overt but glowing from behind the white surface and emphasising the edge of each hand cut hole. The visibility of the wall behind and the shadows, are aspects of both artists’ works. Their drawings are not discrete objects, but pieces that use and engage with the nature of their location. This is in contrast to the famous ‘cut artist’ Lucio Fontana who, in his pierced and slashed paintings, covered the back of his canvases with black cloth so that the negative space was intangible, inaccessible and not part of the gallery space: almost other worldly.

The diagrammatic, or map like references in Bell-Jones’s work involve the representation of a different scale of space, a scale that is consistent within each work but could be microscopic or geographic. In Pearlman’s Eye it represents the eye of a storm, relocating us again to something outside the works immediate context. This work reminds me of Da Vinci’s Deluge, 1517, where there is also a circulating energy of lines.

I especially liked the contrast between Bell-Jones’s Diagram and Pearlman’s Eye in the central space. In Diagram, Bell-Jones had cut out all the empty space between the lines of the linking network diagram and then reversed it. Leaving a delicate white net with its double in grey, its shadow cast behind it on the wall. In Diagram, traces of the original colour of the diagram are slightly apparent along the edges of the delicate cuts. With his systematic work any mistake ruins the final outcome, where as Pearlman’s organic explosive work contains our fallible gesture.

This exhibition is a considered and visually exciting investigation into drawing as a negative act of mark making, the removal of the ground as apposed to the mark resting on it. It is well worth seeing, but after seeing the stunning Eye by Pearlman take time to look carefully at the drawings in response by Bell-Jones, which are just as stimulating but not as instantaneous.

Monday, October 01, 2007


29 Sept - 7 Oct 2007
Sat + Sun 1 - 6pm
Five Years Gallery
Unit 66 6th Floor, Regent Studios, 8 Andrews Rd, London E8 4QN

Apparently there is something strange happening in and around the Five Years Gallery: the A.A.S. are investigating a ‘zone of instability’ and are trying to avert a disaster. The peculiar happenings seem to be originating from East End galleries. The A.A.S. believe that galleries are in fact fronts for highly illegal activities or head quarters for hostile organizations.

The A.A.S. is an undercover organisation carrying out various absurd but covert operations. It is formed from a changing collection of agents and “participants are absorbed into particular projects as required” but their suspicious behaviour may give then away. The members are given pseudonyms such as Mule, The Viking, The Philosopher, and the Shadow; their special skills, aims, and weaknesses are also recorded.

The Five Years Gallery is currently the A.A.S. control room. As a visitor you can riffle through their recent espionage activities.
The spy ring was mapped out on the wall with red string and pins – each linked to an area in the centre then linked to images and text produced from and for the spy event that had occurred at that geographical location. They do seem to be obsessed with poisoning, but I suppose this is the espionage vogue at the moment. The agents’ activities include taking ‘participants’ to different shops to spell out words from the first letter of each shop, code words most be exchanged before play can commence.

The participants’ notebooks contained information gleaned from surveillance activities in the form of notes, sketches and diagrams. Visual data was also presented mini photographs collected papers, perhaps evidence. These were quite beautiful. One of the A.A.S. participants read from this during the opening, but its content was still inaccessible to me. They also had the entire electrical grid of Birmingham on microfilm. How could I not respect these intellectual superiors now? I was in awe of the breadth of the data.

The A.A.S.’s underworld was accessible but so deep with layers of information that to truly comprehend in its entirety was impossible. What you saw was the surface of what appeared to be a total system.

Through the spying activities the protagonists respond to the signs systems and structures of the contemporary city but disregard their conventional meanings. They map out a sub system: one that questions the authority inherent within these signs and systems, creating their own, subversive to the core.

Their work reminds me of the absurdist Dadaist events where their actions appeared to be absent of any logic, in response to the barbaric First World War. This same bureaucratic, state sanctioned logic has again brought us to a war on terror where every third person could be a terrorist of some kind. Every time I go on the tube a disembodied announcer advises me to report unattended luggage and suspicious behaviour.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Art exhibition by Martian Artist GRUSFMVMFVM-X3 (apologies if I have mis-spelt your name).
Went to the private view of this one. I didn't actually see anything. Apparently the the Martian was present for the P.V. but was in the 8th dimension.
32a Vyner Street,
E2 9DG

on show until 30 Sept

Emma Holden Affinity

7 Sept - 30 Sept
75-77 Broadway Market, London Fields, London E8 4PH

I find this venue too commercial and as a result anything displayed in there is read with that bias. Though there were one or two pieces that I liked there were too many different things on display, some framed some not. I much preferred the drawings that I saw earlier this year at August arts.

Type An Exhibition of Typographic Design

13 Sept - 22 Sept
55 Commercial Street,
E1 6BD

Exhibiting artists; Tom Brennan, Mihoko Iwase, Reiko Kasamo, Ben Lam, Sosuke Sugiura, Miyuki Sutoh, Yoshiko Tanigawa, Sunhee Yang.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Big Draw East

Its that time of year again. Big Draw time.
Sunday 30th September 10.30am-5pm

Free Drawing events are taking place in the East of London at various venues.
Venues include; Geffrye Museum, Sutton House, Bishops Square, Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, Christ Church Spitalfields, St. Jude's Nature Park, York Hall, V&A Museum of Childhood, St. John on Bethnal Green, Queen Mary, Univerisity of London, Ragged School Museum, Ocean NDC, Ecology Pavilion.

Monster Drawing Rally

Los Angeles is holding a Monster Drawing Rally a fundraising event with lots of artists. It also includes bands as well as drawing. Check out link for more information

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Joy

The Joy
Nettie Horn Gallery
7 Sept – 7 Oct

Nettie Horn Gallery, now, not the newest gallery on Vyner Street as the stunning Wilkinson Gallery opened its doors last Thursday. Wilkinson’s is now like the White Cube, but without the Hello Magazine array of artists who are all far too famous to be interesting. On display at Wilkinson were Thoralf Knobloch paintings’ that were less drippy Doigs’ and more urban dystopian - spaces similar to Hopper.

The Joy at Nettie Horn was another group show.

Pros and cons of group shows;
• They are often only loosely themed without any critical underpinning
• Generally there is just too much work so everything looks cramped
• It is a who’s who, or who’s new kind of thing
• Works are hardly ever site specific but commodity driven
• You don’t get much of an idea of the artists practice
• Discovering new artists who’s work you love
• As an artist you have to worry less about the number of people turning up to the private view

Highlights were Louise Colbourne’s videos of white bisected cubes moving in duet - reminded me of logic puzzles at maths in school. A person standing on one leg (you just see the foot and the lower leg) wearing a golden shoe who wobbles but never falls over thanks to the editing of the film.

Andrew Ekins nipple stalagmite paint drips on tin cans producing a castle like structure was juicy and good in a naughty way, much preferred this to his painting. I never thought I could like anything that was pink.

The unfussy straight talking ‘Where did Evil come from?’ by Brian Reed; just pen on paper in a frame as you entered the space, left the question in a large space somewhere at the back of my brain.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Jerwood Drawing Prize - short list [very long list]

Selectors Avis Newman, Catherine De Zegher and Paul Bonaventura
Have managed to short list the prize to... 77 artists work. So that means that there must be at least 77 works in the show. Not the minimal response I was expecting.

Kate Adams
Caroline Ali
Holly Antrum
Alistair Ashe
Lucy Austin
Adam Ball
Catherine Bertola
James Bingham
Peter Bodenham
Glyn Brewerton
Davina Brown
Graham Brown
Christopher Bucklow
Lizzie Cannon
Jacob Cartwirght
Sunny Cheung
Ann Clare
Julie Cockburn
Ian Davenport
David Rees Davies
Adam Dix
Naomi Doble
Sarah Douglas
Luke Drozd
Mark Fairnington
Gordon Faulds
Diana Foden
Stefan Gant
Anna Maria
Patrick Gilmartin
Polly Gould
Sam Griffin
Nathalie Guinamarod
Christine Hatt
Bridget Heriz
Sarah Hope
Shareena Hill
John Holden
Tone Holmen
Sophie Horton
Mitsuko Hoshino
Melanie Jackson
Ross Jones
Chosil Kil
Tim Knowles
Minho Kwon
Vera Boele-Keimer
Irene Lees
Brighid Lowe
Ralph Macartney
Sarah McNulty
Jane Millican
Nicole Mollett
Peter Monkman
Marcela Montoya-Turnill
Claire Morgan
Catherine Morland
Donna Nicholson-Arnott
Louise Norman
Sean O' Keefe
Grace O'Connor
Eamon O'Kane
Susie Parfitt
Stuart Parkinson
Stuart Pearson Wright
Kerry Phippen
Pauline Place
Margaret Proudfoot
Giannini Giulia-Resteghini
Daisy Richardson
Mary Rouncefield
Paul Ryan
Adam Sunderland
Suzanne Treister
Alison Turnbull
Cathy Ward
Paul Westcombe

‘Drawing Topologies’ – Proposal for Municipal Acquistions Drawings

29/06/07 – 16/09/07

Stedelijk Museum

The drawing topologies exhibition is both an investigation into the different areas of drawing and a means to purchase work for the Stedelijk’s permanent collection. There are two reasons why I found this exhibition pertinent; a) the division of drawing into five distinct topologies and how each practice fitted to their allocated area b), to see what contemporary Netherlands based artists are doing with and within drawing.

It was quite clear that the selectors had got beyond the conventional sense of drawing as being something on paper. The Stedelijk had dedicated a large amount of space to this show and it was not an adjunct to other seemingly more important exhibitions. The works were given space to breathe and were not competing with their labels, as is often the case. This exhibition enabled you to get an idea of the artists practice in particular because it was clearly artists rather than works that were chosen. The five topologies gave the exhibition a framing to the reading of the work and allowing a more critical reflection of the current movements within drawing.

The five topologies they chose were; laboratory exploration, representational, as drawn (meaning to draw out of yourself), narrative, and drawing as the capturing of time.

Drawing as laboratory epitomised the idea of drawing as a working out, a visualization of ideas. Explorations that now have the same status as the final outcomes that the drawings make happen. There is the temptation to look at these works without considering their position within the artists practice. What status does the artist attribute to these works? Within this section there was a fascinating but straight real time video recording of insects swarming around bright lights. [Unfortunately I can’t and couldn’t work out which artist did this piece] The lights were illuminating a concert in contrast to the delicate frenzy of the insects there was sounds of a host on a tanoy and noises from a large crowd, just out of the frame of the camera, which never moved from the insects. This wasn’t drawing as laboratory, but drawing that documented; it was a record. ‘Drawing as time capsule’ fits drawing used to document, but other works such as Marc Nagtzaam’s meticulously copied computer print outs fitted not as drawing to document, but drawing to contain and expand time. Work where the labour of making is condensed within the reading of the image. I found most of the work within Drawings as representation was much more suited to the category of narrative, especially Ina van Zyl’s dark sexual charcoal drawings, images which form part of a narrative or originate in van Zyl’s comics and Maura Biava’s possible life outcomes for an arty female. The Stedeijkt used ‘representation’ more in terms of identity construction or image making. Marijn van Kreij work which was in the ‘Drawing as Drawn’ section seemed to be dealing with issues of representation, though I found his work fascinating partly because I found it difficult to truly get inside and understand. Drawing as Drawn was the section where I imagined there to be doodles and unexplainable images and thoughts expressed or vented through drawing. Perhaps Charlotte Schieffert’s females would be better suited in this section.

The five toponyms; laboratory, representation, drawn, narrative, and time capsule are a helpful start to break down differing approaches to drawing. Drawing in relation to space, the creation of it and the exploration of it seemed to there but not acknowledged. Justin Bennett’s drawing of a large space within a building with an accompanying audio of the sound of the drawing being made, but the size of the space was drawn twice with the line and the sound of the line through the echo of the drawn line within the space.

Another area that is currently relevant that is of ‘ground’ where artists are through drawing, transforming the nature of the ground, in the case of Amalia Pica’s ‘Island’ quite literally. She drew a tropical island in the snow. The snow became the white page and at once the tropical island and the sea. I am interested in seeing an exhibition exploring how drawing is used to change, drawing of action and critique. To critically investigate the relationship between the act of drawing and what it does to the ground.

Drawing Topologies is a fantastic show case of contemporary drawing.

Exhibiting artists; Voebe de Gruyter, Nathalie Bruys, Justin Bennett, Joseph Semah, Frank Koolen, Job Koelewijn, Ni Haifeng, Amalica Pica, , Ina van Zyl, Charlotte Schleiffert, Iris van Dongen, Maura Biava, Lily van der Stokker, Rosemin Hendriks, Marc Nagtzaam, Marijn van Kreij, Sema Bekirovic, Ronald Cornelissen, David Haines, Aji V.N., Daniel Roth, Aam Solleveld, Etta Safve, Erik Odijk, Eylem Aladogan, Marcel van Eeden, Marco Pando, Ivan Grubanov, Daragh Reeves.