Drawing is Coming Back in a Big Way / Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok, Poland

The exhibition Drawing is Coming Back in a Big Way at Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok in Poland, presents works by selected Polish and foreign artists of different generations. It includes also works that transcend the format of a drawing on paper yet retain its essence, i.e. the “drawn” quality, linearity or the succinctness of the record.

The participating artists are Anna Okrasko, Paweł Jarodzki, Marzena Nowak, Karol Radziszewski, Zbigniew Libera, Volodymyr Kuznetsov, Alexandre Perigot, Dennis Oppenheim, Fred Sandback, Chen Shaoxing, Mariusz Tarkawian, Pola Dwurnik, Sławomir Elsner, Antoni Mikołajczyk, Manfred Mohr, and Elizabeth Smolarz. The exhibition was curated by Monika Szewczyk and Michał Jachuła. This videos provides you with an exhibition walkthrough and Michał Jachuła, co-curator of Drawing is Coming Back in a Big Way, talks about the concept of the exhibition.

Drawing is Coming Back in a Big Way / Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok, Poland. Interview with co-curator Michał Jachuła. Video by Ania Ejsmont and Jakub Gryzowski.

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The exhibition attempts to regard drawing as an autonomous, finished work rather than a sketch, which is merely a starting point for further creative pursuits, ultimately expressed in other media. Throughout history, drawing has on the one hand been a record of the artist’s first thought, caught as it was being developed, ushering in a process of creating architecture, painting or sculpture. On the other hand, drawing has always been an art in its own right, cherished by artists representing all kinds of arts, sometimes accessible to the eyes of the viewers, at other times not meant to be made public, existing only in the intimateself-enclosed zone, without the intention to be exhibited.

The exhibition Drawing is coming back in a big way groups works by selected Polish and foreign artists of different generations. It includes also works that transcend the format of a drawing on paper yet retain its essence, i.e. the “drawn” quality, linearity or the succinctness of the record. Therefore the exhibition offers a broad spectrum of works: starting with those made in classical drawing techniques on paper (Pola Dwurnik, Mariusz Tarkawian, Zbigniew Libera, Sławomir Elsner, Paweł Jarodzki), through painting (Karol Radziszewski), photographs (Antoni Mikołajczyk), textiles (Volodymyr Kuznetsov),work with the use of print (Anna Okrasko, Manfred Mohr), three-dimensional projects (Marzena Nowak, Olaf Brzeski, Fred Sandback), to animation and video (Alexandre Perigot, Chen Shaoxing) andperformance (Dennis Oppenheim).

A series of twelve black-and-white drawings called Apartment by Elizabeth Smolarz represents everyday objects. Their images are digitally re-mastered and then “scratched in an analogue way” on paper, which made them more aesthetic and less real. Ordinary things, when made the principal subject of the work, seem to acquire an element of the sublime. What is also important apart from the intriguing visual properties of the objects shown is the multi-stage process of making the drawings.

Two new works by Volodymyr Kuznetsov continue his suite called Personal Diary. Embroidery on textiles – inspired by the artist’s daily personal journal entries, often combining image and text – shows initial ideas, personal reflections and those vital issues that the artist resolved to immortalise at this particular moment. The exhibition scale of the objects coupled with the untypical technique of embroidery indicate a unique way of self-expression, so much different from that we can encounter in social networking services such as facebook or flickr.

Drawings by Pola Dwurnik and Mariusz Tarkawian make use of the language of comic strips with its characteristic verbal narration. Succinctly and often ironically they offer insight into reflections on the contemporary art world and its protagonists. The very manner of presentation and distribution of the drawn images by both artists bring to mind the high society pages published in the press and online.

The work by Anna Okrasko, a collage on paper and ink print, is a storyboard for a film about a district of Utrecht that is subject to the process of gentrification. Storyboards, which the artist treats as separate works, are never shown together with films. On finishing shooting a given film and after the selection of the “drawn” material, the artist builds a new complex narrative. She intriguingly makes venues, people and events elements of a story, considering as equally important the process of construction and deconstruction of the history shown.

Populaire, four colour drawings on paper by Sławomir Elsner, are inspired by the pornographic iconosphere. The scenes, rendered with a nearly photographic precision, are censored by the artist, due to which most of them are destroyed. The marginal fragments preserved, paradoxically, increase the “power” of the images. The invisible intrigues and tantalises the viewers; so does the very “aura” of the artist’s destroying his own work.

Drawings by Zbigniew Libera from the suite Disciplinary Devices (Urządzenia dyscyplinarne)echo the artist’s reflections on the architecture connected with different kinds of oppression in such institutions as school, prison, hospital, or concentration camp. Libera’s works recall projects of the Constructivists, sketched on paper in the 1920s and 30s, which often treated architecture as an extension of sculpture on a grander scale. Mutations of Tools – another series of drawings by Libera on display – shows electrical appliances subject to “genetic mutations”. Libera grants additional functions and meanings to objects of changed and extended shapes.

Manfred Mohr is one of the precursors of digital art. His works from the years 1969-72, made with the use of computer programs, are plotter print-outs. The programs, created by the artist himself, add an element of automatism and logic into his art. Configurations of abstract forms result from infinite possibilities of using different lines and a “dictionary” of programmed elements. Individual algorithms are the direct result of imposed and random principles, which the artist calls “aesthetical-filters”.

Untitled: vertical construction of two pieces,from a series of architectural sculptures by a classic of American minimalism Fred Sandback, is an austere drawing delineated in space. By means of threevertical and one horizontal line “drawn” by a navy-blue yarn, the artist in an illusory way imposes a new framework for an architectural order of the environment in which the work operates. The sculpture, prepared for the Construction in Process in 1981, at present in the holdings of the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, is at the same time an object, an “organisation” of space and a reflection on itself.

The three-dimensional work by Marzena Nowak corresponds with both Fred Sandback’s sculpture and Manfred Mohr’s drawings. This is a broad landscape with multiple grounds made of a linearly treated steel rod, placed within a gallery and allowing the audience a spatial manner of watching.
Drawings that address both two and three dimensions include also the photographs by Antoni Mikołajczyk from the Space and Light series. Thanks to the exposure time used, the artist was able to capture a beam of light vibrating in space on a photosensitive film.

Karol Radziszewski’s series of acrylic paintings on canvas Balance Exercises (Ćwiczenia na równowagÄ™)are blown-up copies of illustrations from an old book with dexterity exercises for boys. The ambivalent nature of the scenes represented here results both from the uniqueness of the original images and from the artist’s intention to impart these images with a new meaning.
In an animated series Reanimations Alexandre Perigot used drawings from instruction manuals of all kinds of products. The characteristic illustrations that we disregard on a daily basis, set in motion and dynamically edited, make up an expressive narrative. The sound track and the manner of representation used by Perigot make his work resemble both a video clip and an experimental movie.

In a performance that belongs to a larger series of works from the early 1970s, Dennis Oppenheim examines the flow of energy, played by the artist and his children in front of a camera. In the real time of the recording the footage, attempts are made to repeat the shapes of the line delineated by Oppenheim on a child’s back. A drawing, experienced by the artist’s son or daughter – without the participation of sight and only as a bodily sensation – is reflected on another surface for drawing, before the eyes of the “drawn” model.

The work by Olaf Brzeski titled The Fall of a Man I Don’t Like (Upadek człowieka, którego nie lubiÄ™)is a three-dimensional drawing in space on the background of white felt and an accompanying video recording. This is a sombre “study of a man’s fall in an empty cul-de-sac”. The simultaneously humorous and “dead serious” work that touches on the ultimate issues is an existential narrative on life and the artist’s work.

A series of drawings by Paweł Jarodzki displayed as photocopies shows the written records made by the painter during faculty council meetings at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław and during different conferences that he attended. The notes, composed of images and text, reflect a given event in a nutshell, in a succinct and funny way. The drawings on display at the Arsenal come from a big group of works made by the artist during the Polish Culture Congress in Kraków in 2009.

Chen Shaoxing, the author of the works Ink City and Ink History, presents the history and dynamic changes of contemporary China in his works on paper and videos. Drawings in ink, based on photographs and created in a painterly manner, show in a condensed manner the architectural landscape and portraits of the residents of China.

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