Thursday, 27 November 2014

The rise of contemporary drawing

Contemporary drawing practices have become much more visible over the last few years. A discipline once seen as an adjunct to painting and sculpture has emerged in its own right as a powerful discipline. The range of extended drawing practice covers the development of expressive personal worlds, includes performance, hard edged abstraction, computer generated imagery, installation and collage. 
As this development has gained pace writers and theorists have begun to articulate why and how this has happened.   
I have just been asked to provide a statement for the new drawing publication that is being put together by undergraduate students and the graduate fellow. As I begin to write this I am aware that others have already written a considerable amount around the same topic, here are some links to what is being said.

Drawing conclusions: the rise of contemporary drawing By Mike Brennan

Contemporary drawing as idea and process

Jutta Voorhoeve: DRAWING IN CONTEMPORARY ART: NOTATION, EXPRESSION, AND EXPERIMENT

What is contemporary drawing?

The LCA publication on drawing is getting closer to production. My draft text (below) will be used as an introduction.


Drawing as an extended practice
You could argue that drawing was vital to the birth of something we now call art; the marks and lines that were left by our ancestors on cave walls reminders of the fact that drawing is one of the elements that marks us out as a species. We have of course continued to draw and contemporary practices have now opened out into wide and varied territories. No longer is drawing seen as a preparation for something else, it is accepted as an art activity in its own right and has established powerful claims as a discipline relevant and responsive to the needs of contemporary society.
Drawing within a fine art context offers an expansive field for imaginative elaboration; concepts and ideas can emerge and develop off-shoots and alternative dialogues with relative ease, because as a discipline it is uninhibited by an obligation to make finished objects, its informality readily allowing it to develop both theoretical and experimental stances. Contemporary practices are complex and sometimes apparently contradictory, in some artists’ work automatic drawing may be used in an attempt to allow chance to influence the outcome of a work and this may be done to enable these artists to escape from subjective compositional strategies, while other artists seek to rely on drawing’s ability to represent the world and interpret complex realities.  However it could be argued that what lies behind both these approaches is the fact that drawing enables artists to reflect on the processes that lay behind both art itself and our experiences of life.
Drawing practices can be involved with the construction of intimate personal, alternative worlds, they can be highly conceptual, the planning and decisions of the artist taking precedence over the execution of the drawings themselves, they can be resolutely abstract or highly expressive. The materials and processes of construction can range from the traditional pencil and charcoal, to the latest new media technologies; drawings occupying walls and opening out into installations, being made for computer screens or for projection and yet drawing is still able to refresh and renew its long running association with marks on paper.
This student led publication seeks to showcase the range of drawing practices being followed by Fine Art students today. The drawings reproduced are seen as statements of material fact, traces of ideas embedded within various drawing materials and their supports, surfaces of desire and lines of thought that hopefully touch a contemporary zeitgeist. As well as supporting drawing as a contemporary discipline, the Fine Art course at Leeds College of Art also acknowledges a long historical commitment to the primal importance of drawing not only in the twenty-first century, but throughout the cultural history of humankind, and in supporting this publication celebrates the continuation of a vital tradition.
Garry Barker 2014

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