“Modulated and transformed”: A Curious Drawing Show in Budapest
Dispatch from Budapest
Protocol at Chimera-Project
January 29 through March 6, 2015
1072 Budapest Klauzál tér 5.
Budapest, +36 30 768 2947
From the top of the stairs leading to the mezzanine of Chimera-Project on Klauzál Square, the visitor could just make out Róbert Németh’s glowing trompe l’oeil curtains Untitled (2015), painted in a commandeered storage closet. Much like the theme of the exhibition “Protocol” (29th January through March 6th), the drawing disappeared on closer inspection; dissolving into darkness and incomprehensibility when one drew too close — highlighting the often ambiguous and transitory nature of the once precisely defined genre of drawing. Németh’s gesture was effected with a UV light and a motion sensor, but the work of the five other artists in the exhibition runs the gamut, from intensely literal — such as Péter Koppányi’s iridescent graphite pseudo-photograms — to a very loose interpretation of line itself, as in Delphine Pouillé’s performances in the streets of Taipei.The exhibition addresses very drawing-centric concerns — mark-making, line, diagramming, doodling, and spontaneity, as opposed to drawing as preparation for something else — and this curatorial approach welcomes other disciplines, represented in Stefan Tiefengrabers’s Wal-E-esque random drawing apparatus and Pouillé’s dance-like performance pieces. Enclosed in a sturdy wooden box and dropped in the post, Tiefengrabers’s Delivery Graphic (2013 – ongoing) is a stylus conveyed by three ball bearings. While in transit the little mechanism generates a drawing that rolls hither and yon, leaving a record of its movements, and a register, of sorts, of its meta travels, and presenting a very neat rationale for the purpose of making lines. The hardware of the piece also fits itself nicely into the historical repertoire of fascinating drawing instruments: Koh-I-Noor pens, protractors, compasses, and even 18th and 19th century drawing automata. Opposed to this open approach to generating random marks are Koppányi’s obsessive silhouettes. Koppányi doesn’t allow himself to be pigeonholed into a specific working process. On the one hand he may literally copy the furred and gnarly edge of a sheet of notepaper ripped from a spiral binding, as in Page, Encyclopedia of Nothing (2014), but on the other reproduce what seems to be a cross-section of a modernist housing complex — Order, Encyclopedia of Nothing (2013). Both are outlines by definition, and his thick, solid and gleaming expanses of graphite, with their precise edges, remove the artist from the work by a degree of separation that, similar to Tiefengraber, situate the artist as alienated record-maker.
The Post-it-based sketches of András Wahorn are points where “Protocol” oscillates nicely between randomness and intentionality. Wahorn created a body of drawings on Post-it notes while based in Los Angeles from 1994 to 2001 and has retrofitted them into larger works that play off and expand on the simple or iconic spontaneous imagery of the yellow squares. Whether or not the Post-its are doodles is immaterial: the extreme ephemerality of the medium forces any art based on this medium into a spontaneous and transitory category. Wahorn then utilizes the drawing fragments as inspiration for a larger works. Here he presents the Post-it/doodle as a spark in for Meditation (2001), where a serpentine figure kneels before a Gauguin-like fetish, and Something Inside the Head (2001) in which a Post-it Homunculus has taken up residence in the head of a screaming giant. Erika Baglyas’ works are almost too narrative and representational to quite fit among the other works. She presents a very graphic visual equation: a lump or puddle of color or, as in Training Camp 3 (2014), a large arrow, which is then assimilated into a composition with smaller non-descript figures. The imagery is vaguely angsty and political but lacks the bluntness or the quirk of the other pieces.
A flat-screen display featuring seven brightly colored raincoat-clad figures marching through the streets of Taipei marks the periphery of the realm of drawing claimed by “Protocol.” The female figures are connected by tubes from one individual’s mouth to the back of the hood of the preceeding individual, and while the performance touches on issues of expression and verbalization and freedom of movement/expression, or lack thereof, the actors very literally form nodes along the length of a line. While they move, the tubes bend and stretch and one of the most basic elements of a drawing, a line, is modulated and transformed according to the topography of the city blocks and sidewalks of the urban fabric. Pouillé’s six-minute-long video Umbilical Parade (2012), bridges the space between an experiential, body-based performance while jerry-rigging together all the niceties of a well-made diagram or graphical interface — color, visual interest, representation of data, environmental input and the resulting behavior expressed by the performers/vehicle of graphic representation.
Outside of “Protocol,” Umbilical Parade might not have been read as a drawing, but starting with silhouettes and building up our tolerance for the unexpected with Post-its, motion sensors, and ball bearings, the expanse of the genre of mark-making is substantially and happily extended to fill much of the new territory opened up by ever-developing genres.