A Slice Through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings
Modern Art Oxford and Drawing Room jointly present A Slice through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings, a group exhibition that celebrates the sustained power of drawing in the digital age.
In an age of mass media, where the rapid proliferation of images leaves many on the verge of digital exhaustion, A Slice through the World explores the power of traditional drawing to make us slow down and reconsider how we look at the world. The exhibition brings together a dynamic selection of 40 recent or newly commissioned works by 14 international artists, who are committed to the materiality of paper and pencil. United in their desire to interrogate not just what they see, but how they see, each artist within the exhibition employs commonplace drawing tools, often in conjunction with other multimedia techniques, to examine and respond to a variety of cultural conditions.
The importance of cultural memory is a recurring theme throughout this exhibition. The works presented pay close attention to drawing’s relationship to the complexities and problems of both the past and the present. Nigerian-born ruby onyinyechi amanze celebrates her transcontinental experiences in large-scale colourful drawings featuring figures cavorting through space; Irish artist Kathy Prendergast questions the implications of territory, borders and settlements in her vast horizontal installation, Atlas (2016), which comprises 100 abstracted copies of the AA Road Atlas of Europe; American artist Karl Haendel, showing in the UK for the first time, assembles an array of graphite drawings in Weeks in Wet Sheets (2015), an immersive installation on the subject of water split across both venues, suggestive of an online image search realised in three-dimensional space; and David Haines, a British artist living in Amsterdam, uses drawing to play with notions of authenticity and representation in the digital age. His multi-layered, hyper-realistic works such as Meatboy and Bob Starr (2016), synthesised from images sourced from the web, question the contemporary condition in which our desire for intimacy and human contact is often filtered through the solitude of the screen.
Showcasing a remarkable attention to detail and skill, this exhibition stresses that drawing is more than just a preliminary activity; it is also an autonomous, complex and accomplished art form that can result in highly finished works. By looking at this ancient communication technology as it meets the newest forms of digitised image culture, A Slice through the World signals the resilience of drawing as a means of exploring and responding to contemporary questions of dialogue and representation, reinforcing its status as an inherently interdisciplinary medium that remains central to artistic practice across the world.
The featured artists are Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze, Nidhal Chamekh, Milano Chow, Kate Davis, Karl Haendel, David Haines, Ian Kiaer, Ciprian Mureşan, David Musgrave, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Kathy Prendergast, Massinissa Selmani, Lucy Skaer and Barbara Walker. Over 30 works are presented at Modern Art Oxford, with a further 10 on display at Drawing Room, London.
A fully illustrated publication featuring curatorial essays, artist biographies and images will accompany the exhibition.
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Notes for editors
The title, A Slice through the World, is inspired by ‘Painting and the Graphic Arts’, a short text written in 1917 by the German philosopher, theorist and cultural critic Walter Benjamin. Benjamin suggests that there are two ways of seeing the world: straight on (the longitudinal section, which favours representation) or at an oblique angle (slicing through a cross-section). He argues that drawing enables the latter, offering up different perspectives of the world.
A Slice through the World pays homage to an important moment in Modern Art Oxford’s history: the major group show [Drawing], staged in 1972 at what was then known as the Museum of Modern Art Oxford. [Drawing] put forward a case for the medium’s significance within an era often characterised by the withdrawal of both artistic skill and the physical art object. Updating and challenging some of the ideas tested by [Drawing], by focusing on the potential of drawing in the digital world this upcoming exhibition demonstrates the continued resilience of this ancient art form, despite
About Modern Art Oxford
Modern Art Oxford is a leading UK contemporary art space with an international reputation for inspirational and innovative programmes. The gallery is located in central Oxford and provides free entry for all. Founded in 1965, Modern Art Oxford aims to make contemporary art accessible and engaging to the widest audience through presentation and participation. The programme celebrates the relevance of contemporary visual culture to society today.