Axel Antas, Nogah Engler, Franziska Furter, Reece Jones, Damien Roach. Each artist brings a different relationship to the natural environment, be it imagined, experienced or remembered. The artists use drawing to create hybrid worlds that could suggest a repositioning of our relationship to nature and society.
Axel Antas, Nogah Engler, Franziska Furter, Reece Jones, Damien Roach
Nowhere is here is curated by The Drawing Room and taps into the capacity of drawing to capture the contingent quality of the natural environment and our complex relationship with it. Each artist brings a different relationship to the natural environment, be it imagined, experienced or remembered, emotional or dispassionate. The artists use drawing to create hybrid worlds that could suggest a repositioning of our relationship to nature and society.
Axel Antas uses the resistant medium of the HB pencil to make large and small scale drawings that suggest human activity which nonetheless eludes the viewer – something has happened at some point in the past but we now encounter an absence. Antas spends time with the natural environment, interacting with it in unconventional ways. A series of drawings have revolved around leafless trees which he has variously wrapped with uncoiled cassette tapes or surrounded with cardboard boxes. These could have been delivered by nature or accident – it isn’t (or wasn’t) unusual to see a tangle of cassette tape blown into a tree - and Antas could have drawn this phenomena there and then. The point is that it didn’t occur naturally and his drawing didn’t emerge on site. The artist photographed his intervention and then made a drawing of the image that he had created. This seems to be a depiction of the natural environment at many times removed, despite the artists’ very physical engagement with it at the start. Antas conjures the image from the depths of the page, gradually building up each successive mark of the pencil to create an alternative version of reality. The human scale of some of the drawings invites us to encounter this vacant space and explore its intangible depths.
Nogah Engler shares with Antas a tangible relationship with the natural world – but it is more emotional than physical. Engler alternates between periods of drawing and periods of painting. The subject matter of both references, in very subtle ways, the persecution and incarceration of members of her family at the hands of the Nazi’s. She uses landscape and nature as metaphors for expressing experiences that are part of her psyche even though she has not lived them herself. Her works are informed by the sensibility and imagery of German romantic literature and painting which is combined with the austerity of functional architecture. Her drawings contrast passages of detail with the glare of the unfilled page. Through there is drawn through lace to simulate the curtains that hung in her father’s attic prison. The drawings highlight the beauty and sensuality of the natural world which stand as metaphors for the violence and inhumanity of man kind.
Franziska Furter uses pencil, ink and paper to make large scale drawings and sculptures which often use Manga as a starting point. This imagery is dramatically altered as different settings are morphed and signifying features such as figures and speech bubbles are removed. Equally significant is the dramatic increase in scale - the enlargement process exposes previously invisible marks which contribute to the abstract quality of these dislocated scenes. Remind Me is a vast light flooded landscape which hides more than it shows. The titles of the work play a crucial role in adding to the ambiguity of the image. In common with Antas and Roach, Furter uses the medium of drawing for translation rather than invention – from one medium to another, from one dimension to another.
Reece Jones enacts a very physical relationship with his heavily worked charcoal drawings. They are created through a process of drawing and erasure – the former representing the planned, cognitive part of the process and the latter that left to chance. Tapping into a huge picture archive Jones marries both man-made and natural environments to create stage sets for dramatic incidents. The geographies that he creates are usually under stress - cracks are appearing in ice or concrete - and the composition brings the viewer into that vulnerable place. In the heavily worked black areas, details come in and out of focus but essentially add up to a scene to which we can relate. A dramatic happening, wrought through the exposed areas of the white paper, disrupts any slight suggestion of normality. These ambiguous, hallucinatory events are again hybrids of the man-made and natural – some resemble comets, others space craft, or moths. The whiteness of these visitations looming in the sky convey the supernatural, as do Franziska Furter’s ghostly, starkly black and white images.
Damien Roach’s practice spans drawing, video and sculpture. His drawings and watercolours hover between abstraction and representation; we recognise them as a simulation of an image but we’re not entirely sure what that image might be. This is because they are many times removed from a lived physical or visual experience. Roach is interested in the psychological charge of found images and objects and re-presents them in subtle and understated ways. Photographs of man interacting with nature – it might be a group of people on a Swiss mountain sharing a spiritual moment or an intriguingly crafted owl on the front of a craft and hobbies book – are selected and recreated in pencil or watercolour or as a collage. Like Antas, he is teasing an alternative reality out of an image, using the least means necessary. Roach is creating images of un-nameable things, beings and places that can only exist in another, unknown dimension.
Image: Reece Jones, Inquisition, 2008 Charcoal and polymer varnish on paper. 152 x 210 cm
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