Monday, 2 March 2015

Drawing in Architectural Spaces

Sol Lewitt is the most well-known artist in relation to wall drawings. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of his work is that he developed detailed instructions for his drawings, instructions that meant that he didn’t have to be present when the work was made.

See a speeded up video of a team of people making one of his drawings here.

Instructions can also include details as to where a work might go as well as who could construct it. For instance Lewitt stated about one wall drawing bought by the Tate:
'It may be loaned while still installed at the Tate by being drawn elsewhere. The drawing should be done by an experienced draftsperson. A white crayon may be used instead of white chalk - but the lines must be truly white. The crayon smudges less.’  See
He also used to build maquettes so that he had an idea of how drawings would fit the spaces they were going into, these would also be sent to the client that was going to construct the drawings so that they were made aware of his intentions. Models are also useful things to make when planning for an exhibition. 

Sol Lewitt: Model for a wall drawing

Because architectural spaces are geometric rather than biomorphic, and almost always constructed from technical drawings, you often find artists that use geometry using architectural spaces in order to echo the geometries of the original technical drawings. Edward Mayer has been transforming space and ordering perception through large-scale 3D drawings that use simple geometry and everyday materials, redefining spatial relationships in response to the architectural elements of a given site. Mayer's recent works have used a range of found materials that he uses to draw in space, such as pre-fabricated wire shelving, wire fencing and wire tomato plant cylinders. See:

Edward Mayer

Gerhard Mayer, (no relation to Edward as far as I know) constructs technical drawings directly onto walls. See: His drawings blur the borders between experience, built space and the space that the image opens up. In particular he often suggests space simply by means of a few curved lines. He has found one of his basic forms in the ellipse. The ellipse already possesses an affinity to the spatial, as it can be easily mistaken for a circle seen in perspective. Straight lines converging also create an illusion of space, Mayer plays with these forms, often creating complex patterns that seems to disintegrate the very space that his more controlled lines open. 

Gerhard Mayer

Abstract wall drawings are often built upon the rectangle and grid principles. 

Krista Svalbonas

Krista Svalbonas’ work is typical of an artist working site specifically.  She takes into account the physical architecture of the gallery/site and incorporates it into the dialogue she creates between the environment and the space it occupies. Her installations incorporate panel paintings made of wax and pastel with large scale pastel wall drawings. She often links spaces together with lines that move between different constructions. Svalbonas’ work sits somewhere between painting, drawing and installation, her very restricted colour palette allows the viewer to concentrate more on the compositional elements, whilst her use of encaustic and pastel brings a subtle feeling for texture into her work. See:

Clint Fulkerson also explores geometric figures in his wall drawings. However his approach is more organic, developing shapes and patterns as he draws. This video gives you a very good idea of how he works. Like Gerhard Mayer he breaks up the flat surfaces of the walls he draws over, the meshes he creates sometimes making illusions of holes and at other times bulges. See:
Clint Fulkerson

Another artist that works in situ is Gosia Wlodarczak. Her drawings operate as both installation and performance. By drawing on glass sheets she is able to trace elements seen through the glass, as well as add other more abstract elements as she develops each image. She also interacts with chance encounters, sometimes  drawing birds that have settled outside the windows, each view captured and then entrapped within other views as she moves her drawing position and therefore her viewpoint. You can get an idea of how she works by taping up a clear sheet of acetate over a window and drawing with marker pens over whatever view you can see and then shifting your viewpoint and doing another drawing and so on. Olga Sankey describes the role of drawing in Wlodarczak’s art practice: “Drawing is looking rather than looking at; the object of drawing is not the representation of a particular environment, rather it is the documentation of being in the environment. The former suggests an automatic activity, like breathing, while the latter is a more considered, self-conscious activity.” See:

Gosia Wlodarczak

Wlodarczak's approach relates to an old tradition of how perspective was taught in art academies.

The window becomes a tracing screen, glass replacing the older grid of taut thread. Gosia Wlodarczak's work points out how important it was to keep the eye point in one place in those old drawing frames, she of course celebrating the confusion of overlapping viewpoints if you do move eye point. Duchamp was obviously thinking of these things when he made 'To be looked at with one eye close to…'

Yulia Pinkusevich takes drawing as performance to another level. She climbs through spaces, drawing as she climbs. Her understanding of architectural environments being much more haptic that simply looking, she is totally ‘in’ the space. It’s also interesting to see how she funds herself. She has used email and Paypal to raise funds in order to get herself rigged up in mountain-climbing paraphernalia. See:
She also has videos made of her performances, working with other artists so that she has well crafted documentations of her actions. See:

Yulia Pinkusevich

You could compare Pinkusevich's work to Matthew  Barney's Drawing Restraint 14. 

Matthew  Barney

Paul Morrison is more interested in figuration, his images creating an environment that as viewers we can inhabit. Using a projector he paints his images directly onto the wall using black acrylic paint and more recently he has had cut vinyl applied to whole buildings. Morrison uses other graphic art forms to inform his drawings such as Victorian engravings or comic book art. Because these art forms are designed to be simplified for a printing process, his images work well as clear graphic forms and are easily ‘readable’. See:

Paul Morrison

Susie Macmurray works using a wide range of materials, but drawing still remains central to her practice. Have a look at her hairnet drawings, where she works directly in response to the possibilities of delicate lines made by manipulating an old hairnet. This sensitivity to materials comes through in her wall drawings, dots and lines being made by wax and horse hair rather than traditional drawing materials. See:

Susie Macmurray

Irene van de Mheen has a more conceptual approach. She responds to what is already there and develops a series of strategies to reflect upon how the wall was used previously. In this case she has drawn around the existing pictures that were on the wall and these drawings become the starting point for a meditation upon possibilities of how to present a series of rectangles of different sizes. See:

Irene van de Mheen

You can find a wide range of artists making drawings in situ here. As you will see there are a wide variety of approaches to working on a large scale, whether you are text based or image based, an abstractionist or a performance artist, working in situ can be liberating.

Fiona Banner

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