My visit to DrawingRoom, London was suggested by fellow students who will attend a study visit on Nov. 3rd. I was excited to go and see that place and how artist explore the theme of the current exhibition was ‘From the Inside Out‘ (20 Sep – 11 Nov 2018). From the curator’s point of view it would be considered as a female and feminine approach to topics of vulnerability that often seem to be rather a tabu. interesting to note that the curators don’t walk about ‘feminist’ position, what shows me an increasing contemporary sensibility of a difference between feminist and feminine. The latter possibly, and considering the personal approach taken by the artists in this show, a more intimate and less political positioning. A curators’ perspective – but also resonating with my sensation on site.
‘the exhibition explores the capacity of drawing to convey the complexity and diversity of female” experience’ – Exhibition text
I knew one artist, Emma Talbot, who wrote an insightful article about her journey and struggle with and through painting (Talbot, 2017). One other artist Athena Papadopoulos was suggested to me by Catherine. The other two were new to me: Nilbar Güreş and Marie Jacotey.
In preparation of this visit I was positively surprised to see how the gallery was publishing further resources on their website: Besides the Exhibition guide also Reading lists (selective books or articles chosen by the exhibiting artists or curators)
The exhibition was located in one room and with 17 pieces on display, on four walls, one piece on the floor and two on a plinth, and one suspended from the ceiling. Through this variety the room was activated, but not too full. I very much appreciated the reduced number of works, allowing me to spend more time with the works. Attached to this room, was a reading room with a table and book shelfs around. One shelf held a selection of books from the reading lists (other books were linked to amazon items)
I was intrigued by the multiplicity of layers and materiality alongside the expansion in space of the work of Athena Papadopoulos, especially her work Even Deader than Dead Grapevine, 2018 . With a connotation of a drape and with a strong presence. Layers of text, letter and words, embedded in thr work, used materials e.g. antlers with deferred meaning. Altogether, a work that kept my attention and I studied it more in detail through sketching.
Fig. 1: Sketching on siteThe other work that kept my attention was Frozen Zebra, 2017 of Nilbar Güres. A mesmerizing alternative pattern of black and white stripes making me dizzy when looking too closely at it. She stated that her work is related to her home country Turkey and the connection to a queer community. Fragments of human shapes, concealing full disclosure, only partly visible – a reflection on how she experienced life.
The works by Emma Talbot are in more ‘illustrative’ narrative, at times amended with symbolic meaning. In a more sketchy way, Marie Jacotey is expressing her feelings and sensation of her living a female life with menstruation, pain, and feeling of death ideas. Her works reminded me often of diary sketches.
Looking across the common theme of female expressions that according to the curators are often hidden or not expressed openly, I can understand the intention of the exhibition of getting things out, or as a quote by Helen Cixous mentioned in the joined text:
‘Woman must write herself …must put herself into the text’ – Helen Cixous
In that sense, I got a feeling of familiarity, resonating partly with what I experience in my work as art therapist. Inner mental images and partly visualized archetypes relating to C.G. Jung gave the exhibition a sense of raw expression. For me good to see how artists, all four are MA graduates, do express themselves in a more direct and at times symbolic manner. I will bookmark them for reference, useful to talk about in my art therapy practice as well.
Overall, I left with a mixed sensation – between my curiosity of exploring painting and drawing through materiality, and a concern of being overly symbolic and illustrative. Wondering how my fellow students do respond to the exhibition at the study visit.
- Featured Image: Installation view with my reflection in the work Gloria in excelcis, 2018 of Marie Jacotey, photograph SJSchaffeld
- Fig. 1: Sketchbook page, SJSchaffeld
- Drawing Room (2018) ‘From the Inside – Out, Exhibition 20 September – 11 November 2018’ At: https://drawingroom.org.uk/exhibitions/from-the-inside-out-exhibition (accessed on 25 Oct 2018)
- Talbot, E. (2017) ‘Coming to Painting’, In: Journal of Contemporary Painting, 3 (1+2)pp. 119 – 136.