A new exhibition opening next week at Knight Webb Gallery in Brixton, Pen to Paper is a collective show exploring the ways in which our different artists use drawing; as a practice in its own right, as a separate trajectory far from the dominant medium of an artist’s career, as the first seed of an idea, as working drawings, as a therapeutic art.
Anders Knutsson presents us with weathered ancient trees which are perhaps a spiritual totem of his Scandinavian origins. Anders’ tree drawings are aesthetically completely different from the monochrome paintings he is well known for.
Adjani Okpu-Egbe has translated his narrative painting style into a transparent and delicate drawing variation, using coloured felt pen. His usual textures are represented lightly here as fast confident scrawling marks.
Lesley Hilling uses drawing as a ‘form of therapy’; the shapes emerging on paper are poetic and curvaceous, as if in reaction to her large geometric wooden sculptures.
Simon Gaiger’s drawings are prototypes of his sculptures and technical records of his ideas. Quickly produced from a few spare lines of wash or pencil, they reflect the artist’s minimal and modernist approach to three dimensional form.
This exhibition is also an opportunity to introduce two new artists: Douglas McDougall and Emma Hopkins. Both artists are portraitists and interrogate the nature of drawing in the genre.McDougall works exclusively in graphite and charcoal on paper, his heavily worked detailed drawings taking months to complete.The surface of McDougall’s images have something ‘Rembrandt’ in them, presenting detailed weathered skin as a symbol of life and the human condition.
Hopkin’s work is equally as intricate. Trained in prosthetics and mentored by portrait painters, Hopkins’ transforms surgical illustration into portraiture. Her fascination with skin is apparent in the translucent manner in which she renders it, leaving her sitters with a hyper-real appearance.
As a whole Pen to Paper aims to present drawing as a manner of thinking, and the works exhibited approach the medium at different stages of this artistic process. Whether automatic, a trace of a lightbulb moment, holistic or nine months of concentrated effort, this exhibition presents the medium in its diverse forms and functions.
Images: LtoR : Emma Hopkins, Observing Geri Morgan, 2009, Douglas McDougall, Captain America, 2014, Charcoal and graphite, Anders Knutsson, Bristlecone Pine, Pencil on paper, 2006, 102 x 66 cm Courtesy Knight Webb