“Drawing is central to my whole concept. I don’t mean making drawing, although I have always done a lot of them. I mean the drawing that exists in my painting” (Bernett Newman in conversation with Dorothy Gees, 1963).
D for Drawing is a group project featuring works on paper by Jia Aili, Ma Ke, Qin Qi, Sun Xun and Zhou Yilun. Focusing on a technique the artists share in common, the show reflects the centrality of drawing in each of their different practices as an essential and innate action.
Similar to Newman assertion, drawing is in fact pivotal to their artistic expressions, whether it is the essence of their entire practice or a preliminary step towards the realization.
Fragmented drawings, sketches on paper and manuscripts inhabit Jia Aili’s creative process to the same extent as his painstakingly achieved canvases: the power of drawing as an irrational and spontaneous act delivers the artist’s mental process and highlights the progress towards sought-after perfection.
A minimal approach to drawing is what differentiates Ma Ke. Provoking the reaction of the viewer and stressing the visual power of his technique, Ma Ke tries to convert his obsession with means of expression into concrete forms. His forms are nonetheless a way to pursue a spiritual elevation, they become a tool through which he questions the action of art-making and its meaning.
Qin Qi’s paper works wear the same fantasies of dream-life or still life views realized on his canvasses. The color is flat and paint less thick, but technique is not what we are looking at. A visual thinker, Qin Qi represents a consciousness that goes beyond forms and shapes to reach remote meanings, evincing thus “that drawing that exists within painting”.
Sun Xun’s works are based on drawings. Ink drawings, charcoal drawings, pencil drawings: a multitude of drawings incorporating text within image is combined to create his meticulous animations. Sequentially arranged one after the other, Sun Xun’s hand drawings are combined to create a sense of movement and suggest the passing of time, the machination of history or the irony of the moving image.
Considering drawing as well as creating art in general as a playful activity, Zhou Yilun epitomizes a sense of disjunction from traditional pictorial language and gives birth to compositions that are borne of a processing of visual information, to convert to a different format. His paper works constitute a part of his production singular for its immediacy and straightforwardness, as well as their grandiose imagery.
Showcasing different standpoints, the show expands from colourfully designed sets to muted combinations of blacks, greys and browns. It offers a fresh and pioneering overview of the current state of drawing among a curate selection of young Chinese artists underlying the significance of drawing as an artistic medium. D for Drawing highlights the originality and innovation with which contemporary artists in the genre experiment with a diversity of styles and statements, reminding us that drawing nonetheless is primary in the necessity of framing any reality, be it emotional or even fabricated.