until 24.02. | #1806ARTatBerlin | Galerie Jordan/Seydoux shows from 12th January 2018 the exhibition PAPEL, PAPEL … with the artists Ronald Cornelissen, Paul van der Eerden, Gilgian Gelzer, Michel Gouéry, Alexandre Leger, Odile Maarek, Diana Quinby, Elmar Trenkwalder and Ina van Zyl.
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Over fifty works on paper, the majority of them no larger than the standard A4 format, are on view at the Galerie Jordan/Seydoux. These drawings reveal a shared passion for a certain pictorial tradition while affirming strong graphic personalities. For most of the exhibitors, drawing constitutes a central part, if not the entirety, of their practice. Each artist clearly revels in the contact of hand to paper, in the wielding of pencil or charcoal, pen or brush. The intimacy of the formats suggests that the artists have opened up their sketchbooks, exposing the inner workings of their visual thinking and inviting us to follow their hand and eye across the paper’s surface.
This idea of the eye taking a journey through line, pursuing the pencil’s trajectory across pictorial space is clearly manifest in Gilgian Gelzer’s drawings. The network of overlapping lines, either densely interwoven or fluidly open, structures the space of the page, pushing its boundaries, creating depth and suggesting light. Each of these drawings is the result of several “encounters” between the artist and the sheet of paper. Lines are drawn and overlapped over different periods of time as the artist engages in an intuitive dialog with the drawing. His tool isn’t so much the stick of graphite or the colored pencil, but rather his body, his physical movement and his reactivity to what’s happening on the page. The play of his wrist, the heaviness or the lightness of his hand, the speed of his gesture all determine the quality of the line.
Gilgian Gelzer considers drawing as something alive, a process or a living entity. The recent work of Odile Maarek seems to literally embody this notion. Her Brueghel series presents several ink drawings composed of densely overlaid and cross-hatched lines swarming across the paper in a continual ebb and flow of sumptuous texture. Instead of working on a blank sheet of paper, she used old black and white reproductions of paintings by Brueghel, gradually covering up the printed images. Brueghel’s compositions are entirely transformed, enveloped in an undulating pelt replete with sensual folds, deep crevices and orifices. In each of the drawings, a few ghostly traces of the underlying image remain visible. We can still detect the presence of figures or the movement of arms and hands, leading us to consider how the artist began her drawing and inciting us to imagine the peregrinations of her pen.
Paul van der Eerden has alluded to the dynamic process of drawing when discussing his predilection for works that have a kind of awkwardness to them, in which the artist’s hand can be felt: “When looking at a drawing, we have the possibility of following what happened. We can imagine that the artist began in one spot rather than another, and we can ask what we might have done ourselves from that point on. […] A beginning assumes an end, and it’s the trajectory that I systematically try to find when observing a drawing.* (* Author’s translation. Paul van der Eerden, a conversation with Maria van Berge-Gerbaud, in Hommage à l’art du dessin, exhibition catalog, Institut Néerlandais, Paris, 2010, pp. 20-21 : “Devant un dessin, on a la possibilité de suivre ce qui s’est passé. On peut imaginer que l’artiste l’a commencé à tel endroit plutôt qu’à tel autre et se demander ce que l’on aurait fait ensuite soi-même. […] Un début suppose une fin, et c’est ce parcours que j’essaie systématiquement de découvrir en observant un dessin.”)
” In his work, Paul van der Eerden cultivates what could be called a highly personal awkwardness. His drawings have a deliberately naïve appearance, yet his schematized figures are forever morphing, taking on new roles and attitudes in order to express the full range of human instincts, urges, obsessions and fantasies. As the crayon hits the paper, it gives rise to the emotions of the day, embodied through the unlimited possibilities of line, texture and color.
A tribute to the creative process is rendered with humor and sensuality in drawings by Michel Gouéry and Elmar Trenkwalder. A drawing in pen and colored pencil by Gouéry shows a curious figure seated before an object that looks like a toy car in the making. Scribbled with determination, the figure appears to be the artist himself at work. Fully immersed in building his object, he appears as a kind of extra-terrestrial with wide-open eyes and tubes sprouting from his head and neck. His sensory organs poke out like antennae, stretching their neural capacities as he explores the design and construction of his latest creation. A small pencil drawing by Trenkwalder takes a different approach to representing the artistic process: it shows a hand sensuously rendered in overlaid lines; the tips of the fingers have been transformed into glans, and embedded in the palm is a form suggesting both an eye and a vulva. It’s the hand that sees and feels, transforming sexually charged creative energy into visual and material form.
Both Michel Gouéry and Elmar Trenkwalder began their careers as painters, yet both turned to ceramic sculpture when they discovered the jubilant pleasure of working with clay. Michel Gouéry builds richly colored pilings of anatomical parts and sexual organs; he also creates humanoid creatures that seem to have been turned inside out, their bodies becoming a landscape of textures and orifices, a kind of garden of delights bordering on the grotesque. His drawings aren’t so much preparatory sketches as they are ideas or fragments gleaned from the different sources that nourish his art: comics and cartoon characters, science fiction and outsider art. Elmar Trenkwalder’s symmetrically composed architectural sculptures display a kaleidoscopic proliferation of phallic and vulvar forms, interlocked in a kind of ideal and ornamental uniting of the masculine and the feminine. In his practice of drawing, which complements his sculptural work, he explores the creation of a two dimensional haptic space in pencil on paper. The raw emotional energy of outsider art is an important source of inspiration for several of the artists exhibited here. For instance, Elmar Trenkwalder’s work has been shown with Augustin Lesage’s obsessively symmetrical paintings at the Maison Rouge in Paris * (* Augustin Lesage et Elmar Trenkwalder, Les Inspirés, 2008.), and Alexander Leger’s drawings aren’t without bringing to mind some of Adolf Wölfli’s ornately filled pages. Fascinated by the possible connections between words and images, Leger uses the pages of old school notebooks for his drawings. Carefully copied lessons in calligraphic handwriting, columns of numbers and even illustrations or doodles constitute the background for his drawings. They also serve as a springboard for his poetic sensibility. Using elements of collage, watercolor and pencil, he selects words or sentences and combines them with fragments of landscape, anatomical figures or geometric motifs. Certain words or passages are redrawn and enlarged for visual and emotional impact, becoming an integral part of the drawing and inciting us to explore not only the relationship between text and image, but also the idea of text as image.
A crude, violent energy tinged with humor comes across in the cacophonic drawings of Ronald Cornelissen. Dripping and scrawled ink lines, swathes of watercolor wash and glaring white spaces give rise to foreboding urban or suburban landscapes in which cartoon-like or caricatured figures carry on with their pathetic or destructive activities. The artist seems to be taunting us, pulling our gaze into what at first appears to be a recognizable space, where suddenly we’re confronted with a host of incongruous elements: finely rendered bulldozers manned by Pinocchio-nosed cartoon characters, a house eviction carried out by a cartoon dog and bird, menacing black shapes resembling storm clouds and helicopters that drop out of the sky, and erect phalluses cutting across the picture plane. By fusing several different approaches to drawing in each of his works, Ronald Cornelissen offers a disturbing yet visually striking commentary on war, power, sex, destruction and loneliness.
Ina van Zyl’s lush charcoal and pastel drawings also have their origins in comics. While still a student, she drew comic strips that were politically oriented yet steeped in personal experience, replete with close-up images of portraits, cropped views of the body, and objects from daily surroundings. For several years now, she has repeatedly made paintings and drawings of enlarged, close-up views of fruits, flowers, body parts and sexual organs. The profound intensity of her velvety, modulated surfaces expresses a nearly visceral connection between the artist and what she’s drawing. The two works exhibited here, one representing a large drooping flower hanging from a branch, and the other a woman’s head seen from behind, seem reminiscent of old photographs in which the color has started to fade. The latter, Uphold, is particularly enigmatic. The longer we gaze upon the drawing, the more we expect the woman to step aside or to turn around. As our eye travels across textures of the richly sculpted hair and wanders into the greyish background, we become aware of a compelling and timeless presence. In my own drawing practice, I too draw the body, cropping and enlarging, reinventing how I see and experience human form through a dense accumulation of graphite on paper. My recent drawings, all representing a truncated couple, a man and a woman side by side, appear to constitute a series, or variations of the same theme. The densely overlaid lines suggest both sculptural volume as well as body hair, or a “pelt of flesh” as one art critic has written. The drawing process is slow and meditative; the layering of graphite lines may well have more to do with marking the passage of time than with actually marking the paper’s surface. My penchant for incised line is perhaps rooted in my experience as an intaglio printer; but also in my experience as a writer. Wielding my pencil across the paper’s surface, I describe and invent intimate epidermal happenings, inscribing the skin with its own story.
Vernissage: Thursday, 11th January 2018
Ausstellungsdaten: Friday, 12th January to Saturday, 24th February 2018Zu Jordan/Seydoux
Image caption: Diana QUINBY, Untitled, 2017, Lead pencil and wash on paper, 56 x 76 cm
Exhibition Papel, Papel … – Gruppenausstellung – Galerie Jordan/Seydoux | ART at Berlin