curated by Erin Brown work by: Joseph Burwell, Martí Cormand, Adam Fowler, Margaret Inga Wiatrowski, Dustin London, Chris Nau, Allyson Strafella, and Ilene Sunshine
Early in the 20th century, drawing underwent a dramatic transformation: as advances in photography freed drawing-based processes of their traditional obligation to communicate information or illustrate events, drawing became a direct and immediate method of expression, fueled by the rapidly changing ideological landscape of early abstraction. The principles of drawing—and line in particular—began to permeate the visual vocabulary of other media, and inform the way painting, sculpture, installation and performance work was made. Line came to the forefront of the page and canvas: no longer a mere subservient undergirding but a vital, vocal tool in expressing energy, movement, emotion, and boundaries in these new idioms.
This exploration continues today, with drawing undergoing constant permutations as technology advances and ideas continue to shift. Next In Line engages the work of eight New York Foundation for the Arts drawing fellows and examines how each artist utilizes line as a means to achieve a unique voice, both formally and conceptually.
For Allyson Strafella, whose whisper-thin copy paper sheets are perforated with thousands of typed colons, line is a process of accumulation, a concept that recurs in Adam Fowler’s sweeping gestural drawings that have their negative space removed by hand with an exacto blade before they are layered one atop the other in a diligently meditative process. The act of removal serves Dustin London in a different way—rather than eliminating negative space to highlight lines laid down on a plane, he carefully removes strips from the micaceous iron oxide surface of his work to create stark lines of negative space that serve as a formal foundation for his drawings.
Margaret Inga Wiatrowski gives line an eerie sense of demarcation as she creates work that charts the boundaries and negative spaces of physical places that have ceased to exist, while Joseph Burwell shapes impossible architectures with draftsman-like precision in layers, one over the next, to leave vestiges of their history behind in erased lines and burred furrows where a pencil engraved the surface of the board. Impossibility and absurdity also play a crucial role in the work of Martí Cormand, where gorgeously rendered graphite landscapes are transected by aggressive-yet-playful, otherworldly pipes of bold primary colors, accentuating the emotional power of a single line.
The exhibition features three large-scale, site-specific works that address the issues of material, space and the body. Chris Nau’s sweeping, 25-foot wall cut utilizes principles of space and form to create gestures that are at once physically energized and utterly serene using line as a non-entity and playing on notions of physical reality and illusion. Working with found objects and non-traditional media, Ilene Sunshine will create a drawing that engages with Kunsthalle Galapagos’ unique architecture and invites viewers to move through as well as circumnavigate it. Adam Fowler will further engage the viewer in their physical awareness as he utilizes the body as an expressive mechanism for line in his gestural wall drawing.
Broad in its scope, Next In Line aims to engage the viewer in a lively visual discussion of emerging implications and impact of art making’s most fundamental gesture.
Kunsthalle Galapagos is located at 16 Main Street, DUMBO, Brooklyn. Gallery hours are Thursday through Sunday from 1-6 pm.