‘IT’S EASY TO GO HOME AND PICK UP A PENCIL AND JUST DO IT’ Hitlist THE BEST EXHIBITIONS *
Monika Grzymala, ‘Distortions’
K R O Y W E N
Y R E L L A G N A M D O O G N A R A M D N A T S T R A E H T Y S E T R U O C
Quick on the draw As a major new touring exhibition assessing the importance of drawing arrives in the capital Neil Cooper talks to some of the participants
T ime was when the only thing artists drew was the dole. With a return to the dark ages of Tory government imminent, the halcyon days of the unofficial fortnightly grant that allowed an entire generation of Thatcher’s children to explore their creativity are unlikely to accompany the new regime. Nevertheless, artists have been looking to more immediate grass roots forms of expression for some time now. When more formal institutions get hip to DIY grenade lobbing, however, it can too often look like bandwagon jumping.
Attitudes in Drawing, the subtitle of the Hayward Gallery’s touring exhibition, The End of the Line, is telling. Attitude, after all, is a key component to any provocation, be it through graffiti, zines, comics, cartoons or poster art. Take a line for a walk, as the 11 international artists featured in The End of the Line do, and it can be anything it likes. The Hayward’s Isobel Harbison is at pains to point out the importance of drawing on the eve of the show’s arrival at the Fruitmarket following stints at MIMA in Middlesbrough and The Bluecoat, Liverpool in association with The Drawing Room in London. ‘This form is historically the backbone of visual art, and artists are really coming back to it to look at the things that are going on around them now,’ she says. ‘Drawing is very democratic. Once you’ve seen an exhibition like this one, it’s easy to go home and pick up a pencil and just do it. You also realise how experimental drawing can be. You’ve not only got soundscapes and animation, but huge installations as well.’
The intention of The End of the Line, then, is ‘Taking
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drawing off the page,’ as Harbison puts it. Sure enough, the 50 works on display will include Polish/German artist Monika Grzymala’s large-scale work with masking tape, and an installation by Ireland’s Garrett Phelan, which can feature up to 80 component parts.
‘“Battle For The Birds” looks at the emotional relationship between man and nature,’ Phelan says of a work that sounds a long way from his agitational radio pieces, though more in keeping with ‘God Only Knows’, for which he drew all over the windows of Dublin’s City Council building. He continues: ‘Drawing is too often seen as something secondary, but for me is actually primary. It’s an essential part of my practice, and it’s important to recognise that and give the same commitment to it.’
That sense of commitment, combined with attitude, chimes with Fruitmarket director Fiona Bradley’s observation that, ‘all the artists on show have an indexical urge to leave their mark, using drawing as a way of communicating something. It’s quite subtle, but quite political too. All of the artists have something to say, and they’ve found a more urgent and immediate way of doing it.
‘None of them are in any way using precious materials. It’s just one man and his spray can, or one gal and her pencil. I think the recession has a lot to do with that. It’s not easy to make big production numbers at the moment, but with drawing it’s always possible to do something.’
The End of the Line, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 14 Nov–Sun 10 Jan.
✽✽ Torsten Lauschmann: The Darker Ages Glasgow- based artist Lauschmann’s new body of work conjures up a cinematic experience that’s vivid and magical. Mary Mary, Glasgow, until Sat 21 Nov. ✽✽ David Austen: My love, I have been digging up my own bones in the garden again Austen’s collection of watercolour figures, bold text and silent film study of artist Enzo Cucchi smoking is extraordinarily bleak but highly compelling. Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 14 Nov. ✽✽ Running Time Wonderful survey of artists’ films in Scotland since the 1960s, which presents more than 100 single-screen film and video works. See review, page 89. Dean Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 22 Nov. ✽✽ This is Who We Are Exhibition which explores the bridge of digital photography as a means of helping communities with shared names in Scotland and Canada investigate and record their shared roots. Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, until Mon 30 Nov. ✽✽ Luke Fowler The highly regarded Becks Futures shortlisted artist brings new work to the Modern Institute. Modern Institute, Glasgow, Wed 11 Nov–Sat 30 Jan. ✽✽ The End of the Line: Attitudes in Drawing Major exhibition looking at the importance of line drawing, featuring work by 11 internationally renowned artists. See preview, left. Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 14 Nov–Sun 10 Jan. ✽✽ Karla Black The Glasgow artist, who creates sensual installations using familiar domestic materials such as Vaseline, clothing and flour, unveils new work at Inverleith House. Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. Sat 14 Nov–Sun 14 Feb.