Drawings

We catch up with the curator behind the latest Paradise Row expo and find out that there's more to drawings than paper and ink

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Shezad Dawood 'Black Sun', 2009, Wall mounted neon
Shezad Dawood 'Black Sun', 2009, Wall mounted neon on black painted wall area, White circular neon: 110 cm diameter, Wall area: 325 x 250 cm

What do Diann Bauer, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Shezad Dawood, Mounir Fatmi and Margarita Gluzberg all have in common? Drawings – not (only) in the literal sense, but also as being part of the latest group exhibition now showing at Paradise Gallery, based on the concepts and ideas that revolve around the act of drawing.

Many of the characteristics that the works in this show exhibit are seen as qualities that drawings frequently possess: simplicity, clarity, boldness and playfullness

Also including the works of Kirk Palmer, Guillaume Paris, Barry Reigate and Douglas White, the expo explores and transcends traditional paper, pencil and pen techniques as they migrate to other mediums - an exercise in the conventional definition of drawing, pushing its dimensional boundaries and examining its qualities. Here, curator Nick Hackworth talks to us about perfect circles and discusses a simple but powerful form of expression.

Dazed Digital: Why an exhibition about drawings? What inspired you to curate it? 
Nick Hackworth:
The exhibition takes a very expanded definition of drawings as its territory. In the show are a neon work, videos, etchings, a work that uses electricity to 'draw' through wood, as well as a number of monumental drawings. Many of the characteristics that the works in this show exhibit are seen as qualities that drawings frequently possess: simplicity, clarity, boldness and playfullness. The installation of the works in the main space is almost entirely monochromatic. The idea of the exhibition was precisely to deploy works with all those values in a show, especially the quality of simplicity. 

DD: What makes drawings such an informal, but powerful form of expression?
Nick Hackworth:
Talking about traditional 'drawing', I'd say it would be the qualities of immediacy, nuance, responsiveness and lightness that give drawing its power. Compare Renaissance paintings with their associated drawings, for example. As magnificent as many of those paintings are, it is in the parallel body of drawings and sketches that those artists truly captured the human form with beautiful spontaneous lines and encapsulated something of the mutability of life.

DD: The artists on the show work across a wide range of different artistic mediums and styles. How did you select them, and how did everything come together?
Nick Hackworth:
This exhibition was developed around a few key works. Then I build up some links and threads from there. The most obvious visual threads are the monochrome palette and the repetition of powerful geometric forms, especially the circle. That's nicely resonant, because one of the most famous stories about drawings in history is about a circle.

The early Renaissance master Giotto was once visited by a representative of the Pope who wasked for a drawing to give back to his master that would demonstrate the artist's skill. Rather than give him a beautiful figurative study, Giotto just drew a perfect circle in red paint, free hand. That's the power of drawing. 

DD: Do you think drawing is often overlooked as a medium in the fine art world? 
Nick Hackworth:
Perhaps some of the qualities explored by this show, simplicity and clarity, are underrepresented. There's often such an emphasis on erecting a scaffold of theory and critical reference around everything in contemporary art, that simplicity can be undervalued.

DD: When is drawing just a 'doodle' or a 'sketch', and when does it become art?
Nick Hackworth:
Well in art all definitions are subjective. I'm not sure we need to believe there is some magic threshold over which something becomes art. Instead it's just about how substantial and resolved and rich something is. If it resonates, if it becomes something more than itself, if it starts a train of thought...All these affects I'd associate with art, with something more than a doodle. But some of the simplest quickest 'sketches' by great artists do all these things.

'Drawings' - until the 3rd of March 2012 at Paradise Row Gallery, London W1T 3DB

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