above: “Ruin”, by Peter Illig.
Drawing Never Dies, an interesting and somewhat provocative examination of contemporary drawings — at least that’s purportedly its subject — is nearing the end of its run at RedLine. The show was juried by Donald Fodness, a Denver artist, and Daisy McGowan, director of the Galleries of Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. They considered nearly 700 works submitted by artists from around the world, and ultimately decided to include just over eighty pieces, nearly all of them installed in the enormous main space at RedLine, with a handful in the library to underscore the intimacy of the drawing medium.
To come up with their picks, Fodness and McGowan employed an expanded meaning of “drawing,” which they say is arguably the oldest and most direct art form. In this show, the idea of “drawingness” has been stretched not just to its breaking point, but way, way beyond that: Sculptures, bas-reliefs, ceramics, digital prints and photos, video and even a video “drawing” game with a poetry soundtrack are included. While the preponderance of the material here falls easily within our common understanding of what constitutes a drawing, there are many things that don’t. Some of these pieces are just a degree or so from a conventional definition of drawing, but others go much further than that — and there are a few things that are hard to understand in this context at all. Still, the open-ended approach by the jurors has resulted in a fairly lively and engaging aesthetic experience, even if the underlying thematic narrative is not as tight as it could be.
The show certainly looks good as a whole, with several strong passages providing visual variety. Fodness and McGowan were able to organize groups of pieces with shared affinities so that different points about drawing are made in different places. This approach is especially successful at the start, but it falls apart somewhat as the exhibit proceeds.
As you might expect, some of the most compelling works are contemporary versions of traditional representational drawing. “Five Hundred Degrees Celsius,” by Anna Kaye, for example, is a stunningly beautiful and meticulously detailed depiction in charcoal on paper of a forest fire at twilight. Sharing the same fanatical sense for representation are Caroline Peters’s “Broke Down Palace,” in ink on paper, and Peter Illig’s “Ruin,” in charcoal on paper; both depict collapsing buildings. Shelby Shadwell’s “Comedie 2,” which shows a soiled diaper being set upon by roaches, looks like a photo, though it’s actually charcoal and mixed media on cloth…
-excerpted from an article by Michael Paglia, Westword, Denver CO July 2016