Infinite Line: Contemporary Drawing in Time and Space poses a question that is central to the realm of visual arts: Is drawing still important? In an era when the artist’s hand has been essentially absent from the production of much recent art work, it is worth reassessing the role of drawing, once considered foundational to all visual arts. Through the work of six artists, Yvonne Estrada, Il Lee, Anita Pantin, Claudia Vieira, Julia von Eichel, and Hong Chun Zhang, this exhibition makes an argument for the creative possibilities to be engendered by the most basic of artistic approaches.
The exhibition is entitled Infinite Line because of the obsessive, linear nature of much of the work included. This work is primarily abstract and underscores the innovative ways that artists elaborate the pure act of drawing. Il Lee, an artist who has recently received national attention for his largescale drawings on paper and canvas, works exclusively with ballpoint pen, a material through which he can produce a stunning range of visual effects. Lee sometimes builds up the surface of his forms, creating dense fields of pigment surrounded by fine, energetic lines. In other works, he creates luminous constellations of radiating forms that suggest a magical, celestial landscape.
Yvonne Estrada also uses ballpoint pen in many of her drawings, which may also contain such an array of other media as graphite, silver leaf, watercolor, and felt marker. Her images combine suggestions of organic forms with passages of purely improvisational drawing. She applies translucent veils of color, stains, and drips of paint on her surfaces, as well as calligraphic texts, to create fragile, poetic spaces and a sense of visual reverie.
Two of the artists in Infinite Line will present drawing installations. Claudia Vieira produces complex drawing environments in architectural spaces based on a single, continuous line. For this exhibition Vieira will create a single-line drawing on both sides of a large moveable wall in BRIC Rotunda Gallery; her work will be in-progress for much of the duration of the show. In contrast, Julia von Eichel’s contribution to the exhibition will be a three-dimensional work which the artist considers both a drawing and an installation. Composed from translucent mylar, acrylic paint, and numerous lengths of string attached to the floor and ceiling, von Eichel’s “drawings” inhabit real space – the mylar forms appear like drawn passages caught in mid-air, while the dense patterns of taut string generate ever-shifting views of complex, intersecting linear patterns. Infinite Line marks the first time that von Eichel will exhibit work from this series. In one of her first exhibitions in New York, Kansas-based Hong Chun Zhang creates monumentally scaled drawings of long braided or free falling hair. In Infinite Line she will exhibit Twin Spirits I, a diptych comprising two vertically oriented scrolls, each measuring 10 by 4 feet.
Obsessive in detail and surreal in appearance thanks to their very large scale, Zhang’s drawings are both deeply personal and reflections of Chinese philosophy and culture. Another artist who infrequently exhibits in New York is Anita Pantin, a multimedia artist who divides her time between her native Venezuela and New York. Pantin will exhibit projections of digitally manipulated, animated abstract drawings. In addition, she will present a live drawing performance accompanied by music, as noted below.
Drawing fundamentally defines the practice of these six artists. By including such a diversity of media and formats in the exhibition, Infinite Line expresses the possibility for drawing to remain not only relevant, but revelatory, in the world of contemporary art. In conjunction with the exhibition, two public programs will be held at BRIC Rotunda Gallery.
On Saturday January 26, from 1 to 4pm, people of all ages will experiment with drawing at the Family Drop-In Draw-A-Thon led by Kristin Brenneman Eno. All art created at the event will be on display in the Gallery for the remainder of the exhibition. The event is free and open to all gallery visitors on a drop-in basis. Children are especially invited to participate.
On Wednesday, February 6 at 7pm, multimedia artist and VJ Anita Pantin will mix her digital drawings backed by the pop electronic sounds of DJ Ernesto Pantin. The evening of live drawing performance will also include a donation bar.