‘When an artist takes a pen and makes a few strokes at random, or uses some scraps of wood to stain some color, we call them sketches. Some works are indeed painted by the artist casually, but this kind of carelessness reveals their subconscious, allowing them to overflow the boundaries of their thinking. From some early drawings, we can often find clues about the development of the artist’s later work. These occurrences are the reasons why artists cherish such works on paper and sculptures, as shown in this exhibition.’—Zhang Enli, 2021
‘Drawing On The Mind’, a group exhibition curated by Chinese contemporary artist Zhang Enli. On view through 27 November, the exhibition includes selected works by Modern and Contemporary masters, including Louise Bourgeois, John Chamberlain, Alexander Calder, Arshile Gorky, Piero Manzoni, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, David Smith, Zeng Fanzhi, and Zhang Enli himself, revealing the thinking processes of the artists, and offering a glimpse into the subconscious of their minds.
Echoing the coinciding Henry Moore solo exhibition, Enli added, ‘Compared to his most known sculptures, works in this presentation are more abstract and freehand style, they awaken our curiosity and provide us a new perspective to understanding the artist.’
‘...I think there’s a lot [about the art world] that’s not entirely spoken about or recognized, which is the unseen and the unknown and the creative act as a deeply private experience. There is this great, powerful desire to just create something.’—Phyllida Barlow, 2021
Join Chinese contemporary artist and ‘Drawing on the Mind’ curator, Zhang Enli, in conversation with Ying Kwok, Senior Curator for Digital and Heritage at Tai Kwun – Centre for Heritage and Arts. They will delve into the preparatory works of the artists’ creative process and subconscious, as well as Zhang’s curatorial concept.
For almost 60 years, British artist Phyllida Barlow took inspiration from her surroundings to create imposing installations that can be at once menacing and playful. She created large-scale yet anti-monumental sculptures from inexpensive, low-grade materials such as cardboard, fabric, plywood, polystyrene, scrim, plaster and cement. These constructions were often painted in industrial or vibrant colors, the seams of their construction left at times visible, revealing the means of their making.
Born in France in 1911, and working in America from 1938 until her death in 2010, Louise Bourgeois is recognized as one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th Century. For over seven decades, Bourgeois’s creative process was fueled by an introspective reality, often rooted in cathartic re-visitations of early childhood trauma and frank examinations of female sexuality. Articulated by recurrent motifs (including body parts, houses and spiders), personal symbolism and psychological release, the conceptual and stylistic complexity of Bourgeois’s oeuvre—employing a variety of genres, media and materials—plays upon the powers of association, memory, fantasy, and fear.
Alexander Calder was born in 1898, the second child of artist parents—his father was a sculptor and his mother a painter. In his mid-twenties, Calder moved to New York City, where he studied at the Art Students League and worked at the ‘National Police Gazette,’ illustrating sporting events and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Shortly after his move to Paris in 1926, Calder created his ‘Cirque Calder’ (1926–31), a complex and unique body of art. It wasn’t long before his performances of the ‘Cirque’ captured the attention of the Parisian avant-garde.
John Chamberlain (1927 – 2011) was a quintessentially American artist, channeling the innovative power of the postwar years into a relentlessly inventive practice spanning six decades. He first achieved renown for sculptures made in the late 1950s through 1960s from automobile parts—these were path-breaking works that effectively transformed the gestural energy of Abstract Expressionist painting into three dimensions. Ranging in scale from miniature to monumental, Chamberlain’s compositions of twisted, crushed, and forged metal also bridged the divide between Process Art and Minimalism, drawing tenets of both into a new kinship. These singular works established him as one of the first American artists to determine color as a natural component of abstract sculpture. From the late 1960s until the end of his life, Chamberlain harnessed the expressive potential of an astonishing array of materials, which varied from Plexiglas, resin, and paint, to foam, aluminum foil, and paper bags.
Arshile Gorky was born an ethnic Armenian in Khorkom, Van, Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey) in c. 1904. Fleeing the genocide that claimed the life of his mother, he immigrated to the United States as a teenage refugee in 1920. After five years with relatives in Massachusetts, Gorky moved to New York and changed his name in honor of the celebrated Russian poet. Refusing all categories, whether artistic or political, as necessarily reductive, Gorky forsook assimilation in favor of celebrating his otherness, becoming a central figure of the cultural milieu of a city on the brink of Modernism.
Jenny Holzer is an American conceptual and installation artist whose work deploys text in public spaces across an array of media, including electronic signs, carved stone, paintings, billboards, and printed materials. Holzer’s oeuvre provokes public debate and illuminates social and political justice. Celebrated for her inimitable use of language and projects in the public sphere, Holzer creates a powerful tension between the realms of feeling and knowledge, with a practice that encompasses both individual and collective experiences of power and violence, vulnerability and tenderness.
Anna Maria Maiolino is one of the most significant artists working in Brazil today. Born 1942 in Italy, Maiolino’s practice expresses a concern with creative and destructive processes. Working across a wide range of disciplines and mediums—spanning drawing, printmaking, poetry, film, performance, installation and sculpture—Maiolino relentlessly explores notions of subjectivity and self.
The renowned Italian artist Piero Manzoni emerged as a powerful voice for the avant-garde in the 1950s, debuting as an artist at the ‘4a Fiera mercato: Mostra d’arte contemporanea’ in 1956. A self-taught painter, his work heavily featured anthropomorphic silhouettes and the impressions of objects. He began making his ‘white paintings’—later named ‘Achromes’—in 1957, at first with rough gesso and then with kaolin, as well as with creased canvases or surfaces divided into squares.
From the early 1960s until the 1970s Matsutani was a key member of the ‘second generation’ of the influential post war Japanese art collective, the Gutai Art Association. Over five decades Matsutani has developed a unique visual language of form and materials. As part of the Gutai group, Matsutani experimented with vinyl glue, using fans and his own breath to manipulate the substance, creating bulbous and sensuous forms reminiscent of human curves and features.
Drawing On The Mind
With works by Phyllida Barlow, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, John Chamberlain, Arshile Gorky, Jenny Holzer, Bharti Kher, Lee Lozano, Anna Maria Maiolino, Piero Manzoni, Takesada Matsutani, Fabio Mauri, Paul McCarthy, Fausto Melotti, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, David Smith, Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Enli
‘Drawing On The Mind’ is on view now through 27 November 2021 at Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong.