This exhibition considers the notion of the ‘graphic witness’, a term that harnesses the power of drawing to challenge and question the status quo, to record and reflect protest, as well as to bear witness to social injustices and the horrors of war. Graphic Witness explores the way drawings can both document injustices and become agents that encourage us to act. The artists here use drawing to produce evidence of conflict and suffering, commentaries on injustice and as tools to prompt social change.
Artists include Mounira Al Solh, Catherine Anyango Grünewald, Andrea Bowers, Nidhal Chamekh, Eugenio Dittborn, Joy Gerrard, Leon Golub, Beatriz González, George Grosz, Erik van Lieshout, Lorna Simpson, Nancy Spero and Rirkrit Tiravanija
Essay by exhibition curator Kate Macfarlane with artist reading lists and bibliography
56 pages, 25 full colour images, 21 x 14.8 cm
Mounira Al Solh (b. 1978, Beirut, Lebanon) lives and works in the Netherlands and Lebanon. Studied Painting at the Lebanese University, Beirut (1998-2001) and Fine Arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam (2003-6). Al Solh's art practice embraces inter alia drawing, painting, embroidery, performative gestures, video and video installations. Irony and self-reflectivity are central strategies for her work, which explores feminist issues, tracks patterns of microhistory, is socially engaged, and can be political and escapist all at once. Her work has been shown in Documenta 14, Athens and Kassel (2017); and at the Venice Biennial, at both the exhibition curated by Okwui Enwezor (2015), and as part of the Lebanese Pavilion (2007). Select solo exhibitions include Mounira Al Solh: I strongly believe in our right to be frivolous, Art Institute Chicago, Chicago (2018); Artist’s Rooms, Jameel Arts Center, Dubai (2018); I strongly believe in our right to be frivolous, Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar (2018); Documenta 14, Kassel, Germany and Athens, Greece (2017); I Want to Be a Party, Sfeir-Semler Gallery Hamburg, Germany (2016); I Strongly Believe in Our Right to Be Frivolous, Alt Art Space, Istanbul, Turkey (2016); All Mother Tongues Are Difficult, Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon (2014); NOW EAT MY SCRIPT, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany (2014); and suddenly there were women, (Performance), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Hague, Netherlands (2013); and Center for Contemporary Art, Glasgow, UK (2013). Select group exhibitions include Graphic Witness, Drawing Room, London, UK (2017); The Measure of our Traveling Feet, Marres Maastricht, Netherlands (2016); Everything in Nature has a lyrical essence, a tragic fate, a comic existence, Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, Austria (2016); Es war einmal ein Land, Heidelberger Kunstverein, Germany (2016); Wir Flüchtlinge - Von dem Recht, Rechte zu haben, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany (2016); and Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy (2015).
Catherine Anyango Grünewald (b.1982, Nairobi, Kenya) lives and works in London and Stockholm. Studied at University College London, The Royal College of Art and Central St Martins. Select exhibitions include Graphic Witness, Drawing Room, London, UK (2017); Crying Out Loud: Ladies Room, Edwardian Cloakroom, Bristol, UK (2016); Parts & Labour, Animate Projects, Derby QUAD, UK (2016); 3881 Days, Blank Projects, Cape Town, SA (2016); Comix Creatrix - Women Making Comics, House of Illustration, London, UK (2016); Lux Artist Moving Image Festival, Tramway, Glasgow, Scotland (2015); Derwent Drawing Prize, The Mall Galleries, UK (2015); The Itinerant Illustrator, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore, IN (2014); Outline Festival, Mnevnikovskaya Poima, Moscow, Russia (2014); Waste Not, Want It, London Design Festival, Bloomberg Space, London, UK (2014); Vanity and Shame Live, Riflemaker Gallery & NOPI, London, UK (2013); Ensuite, ROCA London Gallery, London, UK (2013); Cartographies of Life & Death, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK (2013); Crying Out Loud, Guest Projects, London (2012); A Room for London, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London, UK (2012); Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands, British Library, London, UK (2012); Tell Stories, London Design Festival, London, UK (2011); The 43 Uses of Drawing, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, Rugby, UK (2011); and RCA Black, Royal College of Art, London, UK (2011).
Andrea Bowers (b. 1965, Wilmington, Ohio, US) lives and works in Los Angeles, California, US. Studied BFA at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, US (1987) and MFA at California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA (1992). Select solo exhibitions include Andrea Bowers and Marcos Erre, Westmont Ridley Tree Museum, Santa Barbara, CA (2017); Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH (2017); Occupancy, Boston University Art Galleries, Boston, MA (2017); Triumph of Labor, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles, CA (2016); The United States v. Tim DeChristopher, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR (2016); Whose Feminism is it Anyway?, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York, US (2016); Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR (2016); Self-Determination, Kaufmann Repetto, Milan, IT (2015); Andrea Bowers: #sweetjane, Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, CA (2015); In Situ-1: Andrea Bowers, Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton, Paris, FR (2014); and Ni Una Muerta Mas, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, GR (2011). Select group exhibitions include Andrea Bowers and Marcos Erre, Westmont Ridley Tree Museum, Santa Barbara, CA (2017); The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin, The Jewish Museum, New York, NY (2017); Displacement: Symbols and Journeys, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL (2016); The Revolution Will Not Be Gray, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO (2016); Take Me (I’m Yours), Jewish Museum, New York, US (2016); The Gildless Age, Torrence Art Museum, Torrence, CA (2016); Andrea Bowers: Sanctuary, Bronx Museum, New York, US (2016); Citizen, Tate Modern, London, UK (2015); Drawing Now, Albertina Museum, Vienna, AT (2015); and Drawing: The Bottom Line, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Ghent, BE (2015). Bowers' work is held in a number of public collections including Tate Modern, London, UK; Brooklyn Museum, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, NY; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.
Nidhal Chamekh (b.1985, Dahmani, Tunisia) lives and works in Paris and Tunis. Chamekh studied for his BA at the School of Fine Arts, Tunis; and for his MA and PhD at the University of Sorbonne, Paris. Though influenced by the popular culture of Tunis, the modern politics of Tunisia, and his experiences living in Europe, his artistic practice transcends specific geographic and social subject matter. Working with a range of media, Chamekh is drawn to complexity, as evidenced by his transcultural, socio-political research and his artistic commitment to macrocosmic and primordial questions regarding beginnings, endings, and the cycle of life and death. Select solo exhibitions include Mnēmē, Selma Feriani Gallery, Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia (2016); Burn, Primo Marella Gallery, Milan, Italy (2016); Dispars, Aïcha Gorgi Gallery, Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia (2014); and Entre les choses, Mariska Hammoudi Gallery, Paris, France (2014). Select group exhibitions include Newwwar. It’s Just a Game?, Bandjoun Station, Bandjoun, Cameroon (2017); Walking Through Someone Else's Dream: Architecture Biennial Frac Centre, Orléans, France (2017); Dream City: A Public Space Art Festival, Tunis, Tunisia (2017); Fuir, Fondation Blachère, Les Bourguignons, France (2017); The White Hunter, FM Centre for Contemporary Art, Milan, Italy (2017); Graphic Witness, Drawing Room, London, UK (2017); Drawing Biennial, Drawing Room, London, UK (2017); Dans Mes Mains, Dans Mes Rêves Même, Patio Opéra Paris, France (2017); The Sea is The Limit, Patrick Heide Gallery, London, UK (2016); Yinchuan Biennale: For an Image, Faster Than Light, Museum of Contemporary Art Yinchuan, Yinchuan, China (2016); Aïchi Triennale, Homo Faber: A Rainbow Caravan, Museum of Contemporary Art of Nagoya, Nagoya, Japan (2016); Effervescence, Institut des Cultures d'Islam, Paris, France (2016); Inventory, New Works and Conversations Around African Art, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA (2016); All the World's Futures, 56th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy (2015); and Les jours d’avant, 12th edition of Biennale de Lyon – Résonances, Lyon, France (2013). His work is held in public collections including The British Museum, London, UK; Blachère Foundation, France; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris/San Francisco; and Kamel Lazaar Foundation, Tunisia.
Eugenio Dittborn (b. 1943, Santiago, Chile) lives and works in Santiago, CL. Studied at The School of Fine Art, University of Chile. Select solo exhibitions include Las Dos, Galeria Macchino, Santiago, CL (2015); KOW, Berlin, DE (2014); Your Letters: Pinturas Aeropostales 1986 - 2012,,Museum Het Domein, Sittard, NL (2013); Airmail Paintings 1989 - 2011, Alexander and Bonin, New York, US (2012); 14 Peintures Aèropostales, Château de Jau, Cases de Pène, FR (1999); Pinturas Aeropostais, Instituto de Arte Contemporânea, Lisbon, PT (1998); Remota, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, US (1997); Mapa, Wellington City Art Gallery, Wellington, NZ (1994); In An Instant and With Devastating Fury, Centre for the Fine Arts, Miami, US (1994); Mapa, Institute of Contemporary Art, London, UK (1993); La Casa, The Letter, The House, Linden Gallery, Melbourne & Centre for Photography, Sydney, AU (1989); 20 Airmail Paintings, Centro Cultural de la Municipalidad de Miraflores, Lima, PE (1989); Delachilenapintura, Historia, Centro de Arte Contemporaneo, Pereira, CO (1978). Select group exhibitions include América Latina: arte y confrontación 1910 – 2010, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City (2011); Provisions for the Future, 9th Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah, UAE (2009); BAGHDAD/ SPACE COG/ ANALYST, Frith Street Gallery, London, UK (2008); Classified Materials: Accumulations, Archives, Artists, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC (2005); Faces in the Crowd: The Modern Figure and Avant-Garde Realism, Whitechapel, London, UK & Castello di Rivoli, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin, IT (2004); 3rd Kwangju Biennale, Kwangju City, KR (2000); Trade Routes: History and Geography, The 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, Johannesburg, ZA (1997); Thinking Print: Books to Billboards 1980-1995, Museum of Modern Art, New York, US (1996); Face à l'Histoire 1933-1996, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, FR (1996); Documenta IX, Kassel, DE (1992); Cuatro Artistas Chilenos en el Cayc de Buenos Aires, Cayc, Buenos Aires, AR (1985); New York Latin American Triennale, Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, New York, US (1984); XII Paris Biennale, FR (1982).
Joy Gerrard (b. 1971, Ireland) lives and works in London, UK. Gerrard graduated with an MA and MPhil from the Royal College of Art, London. Her practice investigates protest crowds and occupation of urban spaces, archiving media images from the Trump Resistance, Black Lives Matter, Occupy movement, Arab Risings and many more. Exploring the historical and iconographic qualities of these images, her studio-based work (re)presents them in detailed pen and ink drawings, and more recently large ink works on canvas. In this work, the figure of the crowd comes to suggest the expression of collective agency. But these crowds are persistently contained within historical architectures that at once give them form and constrain them. The ephemeral imagery of news media is thus figured against more fundamental and enduring human conditions, while the rescaling of images into dramatic, painterly forms disrupts their everyday meaning to provoke reflection on the place of art, witnessing and the politics of representation. Select solo exhibitions include shot crowd, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Ireland (2017); and Protest Crowd, Peer UK, London (2015). Select group exhibitons include MAC International 2016, MAC International, Belfast (2016); In a Dream You Saw A Way To Survive and You Were Full of Joy, Hayward Gallery Touring (2016); and Contemporary Drawing, Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts, China (2015). She has installed numerous public installations since 2004 including at the London School of Economics (Elenchus/ Aporia, 2009) and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital (Assemble/Move/Map, 2012).
Leon Golub (1922-2004). Studied BA at the University of Chicago (1942); BFA and MFA at the Art Institute of Chicago (1949, 1950 respectively). Golub is known for his graphic images depicting man's inhumanity to man - political allegory meets profound empathy and fierce pictorial imagination. His work has been the focus of solo exhibitions such as Leon Golub: Portraits of Power, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK (2016); Bite Your Tongue, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico (2015-16); Serpentine Gallery, London, UK (2015); Riot, Hauser & Wirth, New York NY (2015); Danse Macabrem Barbara Gross Galerie Munich, Germany (2014); Nacional Centro De Arte, Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain (2011); Live + Die Like a Lion?, The Drawing Center, New York, US (2010); Chicago Cultural Centre, Chicago, Illinois, US (2003); Anthony Reynolds Gallery (2005, 2000, 1998 and 1991); The New Museum, New York, US (1984); Eli Broad, Los Angeles, California (1989); San Francisco Art Institute (1976); and National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia (1970-71). He was awarded the Hiroshima Prize and exhibited a retrospective at Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (1996).
Beatriz González (b.1938, Bucaramanga, Colombia) lives and works in Bogotá, Colombia. Studied at Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia and Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia. González is a leading figure among Latin American Pop artists whose work often explores sociopolitical subject matter specific to her country’s history and vernacular culture. Select solo exhibitions include Reiteraciones (1981-2015), Casas Riegner, Bogotá, Colombia (2016); El segundo original, Museo La Tertulia, Bogotá, Colombia (2016); El segundo original, Sala de Exposiciones Julio Mario Santo Domingo Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia (2015); Beatriz – Bienal – Berlín, Galería de la Oficina, Medellín, Colombia (2014); Empatía, Casas Riegner, Bogotá, Colombia (2012); Beatriz González: la comedia y la tragedia. Retrospectiva 1948-2010, Museo de Arte Moderno, Medellín, Colombia (2011). Select group exhibitions include Documenta 14, Kassel, Germany and Athens, Greece (2017); Frieze Art Fair, Casas Riegner, New York, USA (2016); Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980, MoMA, New York, USA (2015); The World Goes Pop, Tate Modern, London, UK (2015); Art Basel Miami Beach, Casas Riegner, Miami, USA (2015); 8th Berlin Biennale, Berlin, Germany (2014).
George Grosz (1893-1959) lived and worked in Berlin, Germany. Studied Drawing at the Dresden Royal Academy of Art, specialising in Graphic Art (1909-11); the School of Arts and Crafts, Berlin (1912-14) and the Atelier Colarossi, Paris (1913). A prominent member of the New Objectivity Movement, a band of Social Realism in German avant-garde art, Grosz's work depicted and commented on German society between the wars. Also a member of Berlin's Dada movement, his caricatures critiqued the politics and culture of the day through satirical illustrations reflecting his observations of life in the city. Select exhibtions include Graphic Witness, Drawing Room, London, UK (2017); George Grosz: Correct and Anarchic, Akademie der Kunst, Berlin, Germany (2010); The Years in America: 1933-1958, David Nolan, New York, US (2009); German Drawings and Prints from the Weimar Republic (1919-33), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, US (2004); The Berlin of George Grosz: Drawings, Watercolors and Prints 1912-1930, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK (1997); The New Objectivity, Galerie St. Etienne, New York, US (1997); Art and Politics in Weimar Germany, Galerie St. Etienne, New York, US (1993). Expressionist works by George Grosz are held in a number of public collections world-wide including Kunsthalle, Hamburg; the Staatliche Museum, Berlin; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Thyssen Bornemisza Collection, Mardrid and Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, US.
Erik van Lieshout (b. 1968, Deurne, Netherlands) lives and works in Rotterdam, NL. Studied at the Academie voor Kunst en Vormgeving, ’s-Hertogenbosch, NL (1990); and Ateliers '63, Haarlem, NL (1992). Awarded the Theo Wolvencampprijs prize (2016). In his work van Lieshout addresses a multitude of contemporary socio-political issues, often via long-term projects that primarily end up as films, but also as drawings and objects. These constellations of work result from an intensive engagement with a given subject and a collage-like production process—construction, dismantling, discarding and reconstitution. Since the artist himself is quite explicitly part of the work, boundaries between public and private are consistently blurred. Select solo exhibitions include Three Social Works, South London Gallery, Hannover Kunstverein and Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam (2017); The Show Must Ego On, Wiels, Brussels, Belgium (2016); DOG, Tent, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2016); After the Riot II, Galerie Guido W. Baudauch, Berlin, Germany (2015); I am in heaven, Anton Kern Gallery, New York, NY(2015); Private View, Maureen Paley, London, UK (2014). Select group exhibitions include Cobra Museum, Amstelveen (2017); Graphic Witness, Drawing Room, London (2017); Mentales Gelb. Sonnenhöchststand, Works from the KiCo Collection, Lehnbachhaus Munich and Kunstmuseum Bonn (2017); Unfinished Conversations, New Work from the Collection, MoMA, New York (2017); Kochi–Muziris Biennale 2016 (KMB), Kerala, India (2016); Emscherkunst 2016, Dortmund, Germany (2016); CELEBRATE LIFE!, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Austria (2015); Political Populism, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria (2015); The Bottom Line, S.M.A.K., Ghent, Belgium (2015); Drawing Now: 2015, Albertina Gallery, Vienna, Austria (2015); Old Intersections-Make it New III, Thessaloniki Bienniale, The State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, Greece (2015); Scenes for a New Heritage: Contemporary Art from the Collection, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2015).
Lorna Simpson (b.1960, Brooklyn, NY) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Studied at University of California, San Diego, CA (1985) and School of Visual Arts, New York, NY (1983). Simpson belongs to a generation of American artists whose work emphasises questions of race, gender and sexuality. Re-examining photography as a conceptual medium, Lorna Simpson’s works also explore the experience of African American women and the systems of discrimination that exist in mainstream, contemporary society. Select solo exhibitions include Lorna Simpson: Lorna Simpson, Salon 94, New York, NY (2016); Lorna Simpson, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX (2016); Art Basel - Unlimited, Art Basel, Switzerland (2015); Baltic Center for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, Great Britain (2014); Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA (2014); Lorna Simpson traveling exhibition, Jeu De Paume, Paris, France (2013); and Lorna Simpson: Works on Paper, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO (2013). Select group exhibitions include First Light: A Decade of Collecting at the ICA, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Boston, MA (2016); The Uses of Photography: Art, Politics, and the Reinvention of a Medium, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, CA (2016); Invisible Adversaries: Marieluise Hessel Collection, Bard-Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, New York (2016); Making & Unmaking, Camden Arts Center, London, UK (2016); Intersections: Photographs and Video from the National Gallery of Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC (2016); and Citizens and States - Tate Modern Displays, Tate Modern, London, UK (2016).
Nancy Spero (1926 -2009) lived and worked, for much of her life, in New York. Received B.F.A, Art Institute of Chicago (1949); honorary doctorates, the School of the Art, Institute of Chicago (1991); and Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris (1949-50). As both artist and activist, Spero's career spanned fifty years. Executed with a raw intensity on paper and in ephemeral installations, her work often draws its imagery and subject matter from current and historical events such as the torture of women in Nicaragua, the extermination of Jews in the Holocaust, and the atrocities of the Vietnam War. Her awards include a Lifetime Achievement Award from the College Art Association (2005); the Honor Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art (2003); the Hiroshima Art Prize (jointly with Leon Golub, 1996); and the Skowhegan Medal (1995). Major exhibitions include Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico (2017); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York (2017); Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (2016); Punta della Dogana, Venice, Italy (2015); Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts (2013); Serpentine Gallery, London, England (2011); Musée National d'art Moderne Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (2010); Museo d’Arte Contemporani, Barcelona, Spain (2008); Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2007); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte, Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea, Santiago de Compostela (2003); Hiroshima Art Prize, Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan (1996); Massachusetts Institute of Technology, List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge (1994); the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1994); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1992); Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg, Austria (1991); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1988); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California, US (1987).
Rirkrit Tiravanija (b. 1961, Buenos Aires, Argentina) lives and works in New York, Berlin, and Bangkok. Studied at the Ontario College of Art, Toronto; the Banff Center School of Fine Arts, Canada; the School of the Art, Institute of Chicago; and the Whitney Independent Study Program. Select solo exhibitions include Utopia Station, Brooklyn Museum, New York – US (2017); Ishikawa Architecture Project, Okayama, Japan (2017); Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art 1905–2016, Whitney Museum, New York, US (2016); Unclebrother, Hancock, New York, US (2016); Tomorrow is the Question/Morgen is de vraag, Museumplein, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2016); Karl Holmqvist Reads, Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York, US (2015); Untitled 2015 (run like hell), Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris, France (2015); Tomorrow is the Question?, Garage Museum, Moscow , Russia (2015); Untitled 2015 (there is a light that never goes out), Sant’Andrea de Scaphis, Rome, Italy (2015). Select group exhibitions include FREDERICK KIESLER: Life Visions, MAK Exhibition Hall – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria (2016); The Collection Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner, Pompidou, Paris (France); Take Me (I’m Yours), Kunsthal Charlottenborg , Copenhagen, Denmark (2016); A Brief History of the Future, Louvre, Paris, France (2016).