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Introduction to the Special Issue

By Andrew Hewish

When Deanna Sirlin asked me to guest-edit this edition of the Art Section, I thought it not only opportune to talk about drawing, but also a chance for artists to speak; not for themselves, but for other artists, and for drawing. As an artist, and as Director at the Centre for Recent Drawing in London, I am interested in finding a way where drawing can speak of itself. 

For those unfamiliar with the Centre for Recent Drawing, it is London's museum space for drawing, on the German Kunstverein model, and we have had over 45 exhibitions of drawing since 2004, as well as providing residential spaces for the drawing production. On entering, it is hoped that the viewer might think 'I know how this functions as art, but how does it fiunction as drawing?'. The artists selected here are ones that exemplify a variety of approaches to drawing. It is all too easy in the Contemporary context for drawing to be seen as contemporary image-making on paper; this does not account for the way drawing drags with it complex and disparate historical meanings particular to itself, all of which can brought to bear in the recognition of a work's status as a drawing. 

This particular set of meanings and questions are ones that drawing artists engage with in their daily practice. Like any art of today, drawing can be considered completed by the viewer; but in completing the circuit of a drawing, a special kind of complexity filter is introduced. In an age of art where much is focused on a final outcome, be it product or conclusive meaning or image for the viewer, drawing offers a refreshing alternative.

Drawing has associations with being fragile, or temporary, containing gestures that are as much fleeting ideas as they might be marks on the page. It recalls time. It can rely on networks, of points in space or page, that are necessarily connected in the completion of the work; points that make stories, pathways, or forms. It can be closely associated with the interior life of the artist, their passions and intentions, that can be subsumed by systems or processes, or engage a subtle negotiation between consciousness, technic and ground. 

We can connect, along the lines, the mindfulness, or otherwise, of the artist. It often engages directly the body of the artist, tracing their movement, allowing the viewer direct access to the record of its own making. It can love its own materiality. It can spectacularly stimulate our vision. It can graph data; write language. It can promote stages of development, or lyrical leaps of imagination. It can articulate imaginative space, or record observed space. It can draw on its own visual language, blending different traditions to forge new meanings. It is the exercise of imagination on line.

Andrew Hewish is an artist interested in Hypereality, intersubjectivity, and drawing. He is the founding Director of the Centre for Recent Drawing; he publishes, writes, lectures and curates drawing, including Anschlüssel LONDON–BERLIN, currently at fruehsorge contemporary drawings, Berlin.

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