HAMBURG.- Six memos for the Next Millennium, composed by the Italian writer Italo Calvino in 1985, are reflections on writing and the future of literature. They are a profound plea on behalf of the intellectual and illustrative power of art, and its ability to seem to describe the world partly in terms of ever-changing material qualities, and partly in terms of aggregate states: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity, and consistency.
In the chapter about lightness, Calvino describes two opposite tendencies, which throughout the centuries ... have competed in literature: one tries to make language into a weightless element that hovers above things like a cloud or better, perhaps, the finest dust or, better still, a field of magnetic impulses. The other tries to give language the weight, density, and concreteness of things, bodies, and sensations.
Is the tension between these two tendencies not also visible in the fine arts and particularly in drawing and graphics the field which the exhibition series The Body of Drawing is dedicated to? If one consciously considers the graphical from perspectives other than those generally accepted and often biased approaches dominated by line, then just as in Calvinos observations on literature, a spectrum of various textures emerges. Not least among these, artistic approaches emerge which are distinguished by an interest in volume and corporeality.
This can take place on three levels. Firstly, ones gaze is directed to the body of the drawing, which consolidates as a physical presence on or out of the pictorial surface; this is the aspect which the first of these exhibitions, The Touch of Density, focusses upon. Secondly, the direct marks left by the physical action allude to the body of the artist. The human body also comes into play as pictorial representation. The series title, however, also includes body in the sense of corpus, meaning the total holdings of a collection covering a particular topic, such as the topic of drawing.
James Bockelman combines complex layers of colour with silhouette-like cut-out forms. This creates an impression of levels that are constantly over-writing or over-drawing each other, in which the logic of the constructive integrates with an open, repeatedly emerging background.
In Hanna Hennenkempers work, her interest in drawing bodies and volumes is always combined with an investigation of the psychological dimensions of materiality. Her motifs are subjected to a type of emotional exposure. Thus they appear just as real as fictitious, often fluctuating between organic and technoid.
In Edgar Knoblochs drawings, the motifs appear to be dissolving into dust-like particles. These are historical landscapes and architecture which are associated with German history and national traumas. With intentionally indistinct contours, these seem to evoke faded afterimages of the past.
Anke Röhrscheid devises a morphology of forms that appear microscopic a type of encyclopaedia of ambiguous things that do not exist at all in reality. These may be read as abstract ornamental consolidations, but they also conjure associations with vegetation, or with the biomorphic, surrealist language of form used by Salvador Dalí or Yves Tanguy.
Nora Schattauer generates a systematically sketched out structural design in which she inscribes materials, with which nature itself seems to continue drawing. She combines the mathematical regularity of the grid with the open, process-oriented, associative and transparent nature of the fleck.