new exhibitions
DRAWING ROOM

1-27 Rodney Place, Elephant and Castle, SE17 1PP
020 7708 2554

www.drawingroom.org.uk
mail@drawingroom.org.uk

Wednesday - Sunday 12-6pm

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VANESSA BAIRD: IF EVER THERE WERE AN END TO A STOR
Mar 1 - May 9, 2021 FINAL WEEK
Vanessa Baird’s work is story telling of a kind that is both potently provocative and emphatically individual. Her charged creations, made in pastel and watercolour, range from room-size murals to intimate self-portraits and draw on a wide range of references from her own lived experiences, as well as from Scandinavian folklore and literature. This exhibition, the artist’s first solo survey in the UK, introduces Baird’s world through a selection of her extraordinary drawings, made over the last two years, and includes an immense wall-size seascape created for the show.
 
A key series of works, entitled There’s no place like home, 2019-20, is centred on the Oslo house that she grew up in and still inhabits with her three teenage children and elderly mother, for whom she acts as carer. Through vivid images of herself and her family, Baird captures the states of exhaustion, boredom and frustration that accompany the everyday tasks of looking after a household, conjuring up the chaotic detritus of domestic life in a kaleidoscope of provocatively raw imagery: her ever-present mother is seen lying ghost-like in bed; half-dressed teenagers, attached to their mobiles, slump at the table. The artist portrays herself with honest vulnerability, as both a mother, daughter and carer, explicitly describing the taboo subjects of intimate bodily functions and the ageing female body. Her work is underpinned by a dark sense of humour, with scenes made more menacing by Baird’s use of pictorial foreshortening and angled perspectives; her figures are compressed into claustrophobic spaces that draw the viewer unavoidably into nightmarish psychodramas.

DRAWING BIENNIAL 2021
May 21 - Jul 5, 2021
Featuring new and recent works on paper by leading international artists, the Biennial showcases every imaginable technique and represents artists from a range of generations, backgrounds, and heritages. The exhibition culminates in an online auction taking place over its final two weeks, with all works available to purchase – it’s your chance to own works by established greats and discover emerging talent.
 
For many, 2020 was the year for drawing – its absorbing immediacy, its accessibility to all and its capacity for processing ideas, thoughts and emotions made it a vital tool for navigating uncertain times. The multiplicity of drawings on show reveals sparkling gems, a glossary of the challenges and the opportunities afforded by a global pandemic that has affected us all in different ways.
 
Contributing artists include: Art & Language, Charles Avery, Phyllida Barlow, Amelia Barratt, Alvaro Barrington, David Batchelor, Marc Bauer, Olivia Bax, Rana Begum, Bea Bonafini, Derek Boshier, Sonia Boyce, Adam Chodzko, Shawanda Corbett, Emma Cousin, Somaya Critchlow, Richard Deacon, Tacita Dean, Howard Dyke, Neil Gall, Ryan Gander, Lothar Goetz, Penny Goring, Antony Gormley, Mona Hatoum, Donna Huddleston, Chantal Joffe, Radhika Khimji, France-Lise McGurn, Julie Mehretu, Jade Montserrat, Paul Noble, Julian Opie, Fani Parali, Hetain Patel, Florence Peake, Simon Periton, Heather Phillipson, Cathie Pilkington, Yelena Popova, Kathy Prendergast, Quinlan & Hastings, Saad Qureshi, Giles Round, George Shaw, Raqib Shaw, Adam Shield, Bob & Roberta Smith, Olivia Sterling, Suzanne Treister, Luc Tuymans, Nicola Tyson, Phoebe Unwin, Kara Walker and Rose Wylie.

FIGURE/S: DRAWING AFTER BELLMER
Sep 9 - Oct 31, 2021
FIGURE/S: drawing after Bellmer explores the body as a site of oppression and liberation through the work of modern and contemporary artists. It takes as its starting point the radical and transgressive drawings of Hans Bellmer (1902-1975), whose work simultaneously mimicked and resisted the dehumanisation performed by fascism and racism. His drawings have had a powerful influence, sometimes subterranean, on many artists across the world in both high and popular culture, from French Surrealism to Japanese manga. Recently there has been an upsurge of interest in his work, especially the drawings, by younger contemporary artists.
 
The exhibition explores Bellmer’s lasting influence on artists and thinkers through work by twenty modern and contemporary artists from Japan, UK, Lebanon, Nigeria, Germany, France and US. It includes carefully selected drawings made by Bellmer in the 1940s to 60s, by his partner Unica Zürn in the 1960s, by Richard Hamilton in the 1950s and by the Lebanese artist Huguette Caland in the 1970s. These modern works are combined with contemporary approaches that relate to feminist, transgender and anti-racist concerns, including new commissions by Mathew Hale, Rebecca Jagoe, Aura Satz and Marianna Simnett. Bellmer’s influence in Japan is represented by the work of Fuyuko Matsui, Kumi Machida and Tabaimo and the exhibition also includes Paul Chan, Neil Gall, Sharon Kivland, Jade Montserrat, Jean-Luc Moulène, John Murphy, Paul Noble, Wura-Natasha Ogunji and Chloe Piene.
 
Bellmer grew up with the rise of National Socialism in Germany, with its antagonism towards ‘degenerate’ bodies and celebration of the ideal human form. Through the production of hundreds of drawings and the two dolls he constructed in the early 1930s and photographed in disturbing and scandalous scenarios, Bellmer defigured and refigured the body in pursuit of unimagined sensations. He likened the body to a sentence that can be dismantled and recomposed, an interest shared with Unica Zürn, the artist, poet and writer who had a relationship with Bellmer from 1953 until her premature death in 1970. For drawings ‘after’ Bellmer, the phallocentric focus of his enquiry is superseded by approaches that challenge and split the subject to embrace multiplicity and creaturely freedom.

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