Drawing : Sculpture

DrawingSculpture_1.jpgDrawing : Sculpture, installation view Leeds Art Gallery, 2013



The exhibition explores whether the languages of drawing and sculpture are intertwined or simply parallel.

Drawing : Sculpture is a partnership between Drawing Room and Leeds Art Gallery. Drawing Room is dedicated to the investigation and presentation of international contemporary drawing. Leeds Art Gallery is home to one of the most significant collections of 20th century British sculpture, with a focus on artworks that demonstrate and reiterate the relationship between drawing and sculpture. Drawing : Sculpture draws upon these resources and expertise to produce two exhibitions – at Leeds Art Gallery and then at Drawing Room, London, this publication and a symposium.

Drawing : Sculpture is a selection of artworks that explore whether the languages of drawing and sculpture are now intertwined or if they continue to exist in parallel. It includes work by a generation of international artists who make work that moves between sculpture and drawing, often using the medium of drawing to create works that might be defined as sculpture. The exhibition presents an international line up of artists working in some of the key cultural capitals: Anna Barriball and Alice Channer in London, Sara Barker in Glasgow, Aleana Egan in Dublin, Knut Henrik Henriksen and Bojan Šarcevi´c in Berlin and Dan Shaw-Town in New York.

For the exhibition in Leeds, visitors will have the opportunity to view the work of the above artists alongside key pieces by Martin Boyce, Alexander Calder, Lynn Chadwick, Barry Flanagan, Martin Naylor, Eva Rothschild, and Alison Wilding from the 20th Century collection of Leeds Art Gallery. The works reiterate the historical relationship between drawing and sculpture, providing a context and a counterpoint for the more recent pieces on display. The earliest works – mobiles by Calder and Chadwick from the mid-20th century – present Modernist conceptions of ‘drawing in space’. These skeletal structures, made from wire and thin plates of metal, depart from the traditional notion of the art work as a static object and incorporate ideas, which are embedded in drawing, of motion and change and of form liberated from mass. Sixty years later Boyce’s mobile references such creations, suspending leg splints by the Modernist designer, Ray Eames, on metal armatures so that they float in the air. However, in his work, heroic visions of soaring and weightlessness morph subtly into suggestions of slightness, ephemerality and the mutability of material things. Naylor’s wall-based assemblage, entitled ‘A Young Girl Seated by her Window’, is both abstract and expressive, using qualities of line to create atmosphere and a sense of place. It is made from delicate lengths of wire and rigid metal rods, with a teacup balanced precariously on top. The wire and rods cast insubstantial shadows, so that further lines are scattered and rear up into space. Chadwick, Flanagan and Rothschild harness the primeval associations of drawing, using hieroglyphic symbols to create totemic objects: a grid scratched onto slate, a spiral etched into clay and perfect geometrical shapes cut into plastic and transposed one over another. The lines highlight the physical properties of the materials: hard slate, soft clay and immutable plastic. Rothschild and Wilding focus on qualities of surface, using reflective, transparent and translucent materials to create an illusion of depth and layering, folding and joining flat planes into three dimensional forms.

Anna Barriball and Dan Shaw-Town share an employment of repetitive graphite mark-making. This attention to process and the passage of time is countered by the formal strategies of Minimalism such as the employment of rectilinear shapes, the grid and serialisation. Sara Barker and Aleana Egan use line to negotiate responses to visual and literary influences and to conjure open yet resolved forms. Knut Henrik Henriksen has an interest in questioning and redefining architectural spaces, paying particular attention to the in-between and contradictory, and leaving the work open to adaption to different environments. Alice Channer and Bojan Šarcevic create works that are hard to define, incorporating a wide range of materials and procedures that pay attention to details, combining the domestic, the body and the mechanical.