On Big Drawings brings together artists whose work
celebrates the medium of drawing as a contemporary form of expression
in relationship to its surroundings.
Drawings are often thought of as intimate, more
representational works that are
preparation for a finished piece.
On Big Drawings seeks to expand classical notions of drawing
as mere visual representation into a nuanced discussion of
how contemporary drawing can operate on a large scale in planar,
constructed, and projected space, or in other innovative ways.
Contemporary drawings in the expanded field of art practice, and at a time of rapid, global change brought about by the pandemic. How are artists affected, and are their ideas and practices quickly evolving? Can you still work big? Do artists spend more time working on small scale works or sketchbooks than executing more 'ambitious' work at this time?
Each featured artist has made an outstanding contribution to an expanded notion of drawing, creating work that engenders a dialogue about drawing across media boundaries, while often engaging with large-scale works created for specific spaces. Many of the selected artists also bring other kinds of innovative approaches to drawing, working small scale, non-traditionally, through projection, mapping or tracing, and so on.
The new online discourse and resource wishes to explore how artists used to working in expansive, large scale, and site specific ways, are adapting during times of uncertainty and an increased meed to work in isolation, and ’at a distance’. Will artists make more intimate works? How will work be disseminated and seen under the evolving circumstances?
Drawing here is defined as an expanded form of contemporary art, rather than the mere, and more mechanical craft of masterful representation, observation, and rendering.
On Big Drawing: Excerpt from the catalogue Essay by Jennifer Shaw, 2014
"Something has happened to drawing. It has been snatched back from the amateur sketcher and the art school copyist; excused from the politeness of the drawing room and the perfunctoriness of the drawing-board. Used for so long to outline form in nature – to describe an apple or the musculature of a classical torso - it is no longer just a stage before coloring in."
For the original project in 2014 artists working in the Chicago area and beyond were selected each of whom made an outstanding contribution to an expanded notion of drawing, and whose work creates a dialogue across media boundaries, and fits within the exhibition concept. The new, 2020, version of On Big Drawings casts a wider net of artistic positions, approaches, and and countries, and has a special focus on the radical and emerging change brought about by the ‘Year of the Pandemic’. The list of represented artists has grown to 18 artists from the US and beyond.
One question foremost on our mind, was: how do the artists respond to the Covid-19 crisis and rapid global change, and do you think the new situation has an impact on your creative practice, your exhibitions and projects, and the nature of work being affected by working from home for extended periods of time? Perhaps artists start making smaller scale, more intimate works, made from simpler and easily accessible materials ?
How did the project come about?
My personal interest in the medium of drawing was sparked through a dialogue with Jennifer Shaw over a decade or so, and through links between Drawing, Digitality, and Multiplicity (my more native domain).
Over the years I realized many digital wall drawings that are printed, immersive and on a large scale, and over the past ten years manual mark-making and actual physical drawing has become more and more important in my own art practice, which will also be included on the site. These projects sparked my interest to connect with other artists keen on expanding Drawing beyond the sketchbook, and the idea for ‘On Big Drawings’ was born in 2014.
On Big Drawings - A Discourse
Questions, thoughts, and considerations
for online dialogue (Q+A) on the new resource.
When did you start drawing? Were you naturally attracted to this medium, or is this a more recent concern and engagement?
What do you make of the traditional idea of 'mastery', which despite a lot of innovation, continues to have an ongoing association with drawing.
What is a good drawing? What is a bad drawing?
How important is a notion of 'process' in your drawing practice?
The main theme of our project is 'OnBigDrawings'. What do you make of big drawings / or small drawings, and why does it matter?
What kind of relationship do you want your work to have with its audience?
What do you make of small, intimate drawings, sketchbook pages, beer mat sketches, and scribbles. Are these sheets more 'personal' or can they be art?
The current student generation is hugely influenced by graffiti and Manga culture, as well as a desire to represent things in more classical ways. How do you relate to this trend?
How would you define the fundamental differences between painting and drawing? (A quote: 'A drawing is a painting made with less paint', ... Henry Matisse).
In 2010/2011 MOMA in New York staged its biggest drawing exhibition of the 20th century, and it was called 'On Line'. Do you think drawing is necessarily just about 'lines'?
Asian drawings are known to celebrate a notion of 'emptiness'. Do you seek 'emptiness' in your work?
Traditional drawing is a more intimate and 'personal' artform, yet a lot of contemporary art practice seeks a more social and participatory dimension. How is this reflected in your projects and drawings?
Drawing is often treated as a very technical medium in art education (especially in US art schools). Do you think there could be other ways to teach drawing?
One question foremost on my mind, was: how do the artists respond to Covid-19 and the global crisis, and do you think the new situation has an impact on your creative practice, your exhibitions and projects, and the nature of work being affected by working from home for extended periods of time? Perhaps artists start making smaller scale, more intimate works, made from simpler and easily accessible materials ?
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Your own questions and concerns…
Answers to the questions will form the basis of key sections on the new resource that will be presented in a dialogue format. This will be the basis for further conversations with each artist. until mid December 2020 when the site and social media initiative will launch. A second stage of the project is planned from March 2021 to go further into depth with some of the key issues raised, and to consider the evolving -- stabilizing (?) -- situation for 2021 and beyond.