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Figure and Ground
Online talk Fri 2 July 2021
Drawing Biennial 2021 artists Phoebe Boswell, Mandy El-Sayegh, Jake Grewal and Matthew Krishanu in conversation with Isabel Seligman, Monument Trust Curator of Modern and Contemporary Drawing at the British Museum. Four artists who use figuration in their work, or different interpretations of the corporeal, examine the drawn body from different perspectives and in different contexts, including as site of memory, resistance and desire.
About the artists
Born 1982 Kenya, Phoebe Boswell lives and works in London. Boswell makes work anchored to a restless state of diasporic consciousness. Combining draftswomanship and digital technology, she creates immersive installations and bodies of work which layer drawing, animation, sound, video, and interactivity in an effort to find new languages robust yet open and multifaceted enough to house, centre, and amplify voices and histories which, like her own, are often systemically marginalised or sidelined as ‘other’. Her works are held in public and private collections including the UK Government Art Collection and The Studio Museum, New York.
Born 1985 Malaysia, Mandy El-Sayegh lives and works in London. El-Sayegh’s process-driven practice is rooted in an exploration of material and language. Executed across a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, installation, performance and video, her work investigates the formation and break-down of systems of order, creating layered anthologies from found text and images. Set adrift from their original contexts, these fragments become open to multiple readings that are personally, socially or politically determined and undermine the supposed objectivity of language and media. By emphasising the boundaries of her chosen medium, El-Sayegh draws attention to the systems that determine how information is categorised, contained and understood.
Born 1994 London, Jake Grewal lives and works in London. Grewal’s work expresses autobiographical experiences within the language of Romanticism. The work is situated within a dream-like reality that references the male nude through a queer gaze. Figures are exposed to the natural world, which is often used allegorically to vocalise Grewal’s internal landscape.
Born 1980 Bradford, Matthew Krishanu is a painter based in London. His recent paintings construct narratives exploring memory, childhood, religion and imperial histories. His works are held in public and private collections including the Arts Council Collection, Government Art Collection, Huddersfield Art Gallery, The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, and Jiangsu Art Museum.