Article by Angela Connor; Tuesday, Apr. 02, 2013
“System und Sinnlichkeit”, the contemporary drawing show at Kupferstichkabinett, features eighty works by ten artists from Germany, Britain, Spain and America. Produced within the last ten years, the majority of the works are non-figurative with unifying themes of grids, cell structures, chaos, models for imagined worlds and the material as subject. The ages of the artists vary and a wide range of styles, approaches, investigations and influences are on display: a sort of mini survey of what’s happening now in conceptual drawing.
We tend to think of a drawing as a flat object. However, artists such as Karin Sander, Tom Chamberlain and Claude Heath unbuckle this notion, turning the paper-plane into a three-dimensional object. Demonstrating a desire to expand the two-dimensionality of paper, these artists experiment with modes of repetitious cutting, needle punctures, stapling and scrapings, producing emotive textures and contours. Their works are exciting in their conceptual approach (without the mark of a pen or pencil) and expose our preconceptions of what constitutes a drawing.
British artist Claude Heath employs a sharp instrument to apply rips and cuts to his work. In his series Archäologische Zeichnungen (2010), Heath pushes and scrapes the paper in different directions, causing jagged lines and deep impressions that overlap and pierce through to the other side. This “destruction” of the smoothness of the paper creates a rawness of emotion in the viewer, leaving the physical residue of a violent act that is then framed and put behind glass.
German artist Karin Sander’s work examines the permeable relationship between abstract images and visual indeterminacy. Her application of the inexpensive and disposable staple as drawing material creates a tension between the hand-made and the mass-produced object. As a collection of staples embedded into the page, they produce simple curves and horizontal lines, igniting the viewers imagination to turn these ambiguous forms into real objects. Stripped of colour and favoring repetition, these images create a topography that is evocative of landscapes. Sander’s clever use of the staple to form this imagery enables the association of the staple to transcend itself, so that the material is no longer seen for its utilitarian function.
Spanish born Ignancio Uriarte also uses a commercially driven material to author his high-density doodles in 4 Color BIC Monochrome (2010). He relies on the audience’s knowledge and experience of the Bic Biro, a writing apparatus synonymous with cheap, uniform and long lasting results to transport individuals into their own memories of time wasting exercises. Engaging in free-form circular motions over long periods of time – an activity typically associated with boredom – Uriarte’s work deals with the emptiness of routines and human behavior. It’s an action that we can all relate to, and it’s this office environment aesthetic that makes the work so accessible.
The variety of responses in this exhibition demonstrates the multiplicity in approaches to drawing today. Many of the works are delicate and intimate, requiring close inspection and time to digest the subtleties. There are numerous outstanding works in the exhibition, including those of Max Cole, Nadine Fecht and Frank Badur. The exhibition presents the drawing acquisitions since 2008 of the Collection of the Ernst Schering Foundation and also includes works by: Tom Chamberlain, William Engelen, Channa Horwitz, Linda Karshan, Bernhard Leitner, Carsten Nicolai, Jorinde Voigt, Corinne Laroche, Jenny Michel, Owen Schuh, Malte Spohr and German Stegmaier.
Angela Connor is an Australian writer, photographer and curator currently based in Berlin. She has worked in both commercial and independent art spaces, as well as teaching at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia, as part of the KPMG Tutorship Award. In 2008 she received her Masters of Fine Arts by Research examining the portrayal of blindness in 20th Century photography.