The language of drawing has always been considered the cornerstone of art and as such it reveals the inner process of the artist and his thinking. From the scientific and anatomical sketches of Leonardo Da Vinci to the automatic doodles of the Surrealists, drawing has allowed artists over the centuries to explore both the world around us and the world within. In a contemporary context, the ability to draw provides an important counterpoint to wider artist concerns and in all cases the act of drawing constitutes a rich vein of artistic expression.
In the main gallery stands a giant, to scale rendition in pencil of Jacques -Louis David’s Rape of the Sabine Women by the artist Wolfe von Lenkiewicz and yet on closer inspection this drawing proves itself to be an amalgamation of a series of different works by David as witnessed by the appearance of the limp, emaciated body of Marat lifted from his epic canvas The Death of Marat from 1793. This monumental work is flanked by two more drawings that also owe their structure to a fusion of different elements by a single artist, namely Leonardo Da Vinci and Pablo Picasso, that when brought together create a new singular vision born from the disparate parts of multiple originals.
The premise of Wolfe von Lenkiewicz’s artistic interventions is to question what constitutes an authentic work of art and as such he is engaged in an alchemical revision of art history through the appropriation and reconfiguration of the past. Other artists in the show include the Korean born Seung-hyun Lee who also takes as his starting point identifiable masterpieces from Vincent van Gogh to Michelangelo to create magical, amorphic landscapes while Paul Noble or Steven Harvey’s intricate drawings reveal an alternative universe that is entirely imaginary. Elsewhere in the main space large-scale charcoal drawings by Mircea Suciu or Reece Jones have a decidedly cinematic appeal while Robert Longo’s Monster series of breaking waves or baroque renderings of atomic bomb blasts tap into a collective memory bank of images that have become mediated through a televisual landscape.
The ability of drawing to be both a pathway to the unconscious and the outward expression of a political or social consciousness is aptly articulated through the work of the avant-garde. In the All Visual Arts viewing room examples of surrealist inspired drawings by Salvador Dali share an association with the contemporary work of the artists Dennis Scholl and Erinc Seymen while the social caricatures of George Grosz, Otto Dix and Ludwig Meidner, produced in Germany during the First World War and early 1920s, have a direct relationship with the work of Rob McNally and his drawing of a deranged man in a blonde wig, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the infamous Jimmy Saville.