Drawing the Line
Group Show

ImageDrawing the Line puts together the work of eight artists whose concept and formal approximation to drawing transcends, in the first place, the distinctions among the different artistic means such as painting, sculpture, photography or video, and in the second place, any attempted label associated to elements such as “intimacy”, “authenticity” “immediateness” “memory” or “magic” (otherwise very common when a definition of this means of expression is attempted). It is undeniable that Damian Ontiveros, Teresa Serrano, Ramsés Olaya, Emilio Chapela, Sandra Valenzuela, Jose Alfredo Elías Dabdoud, Plinio Avila and Carlos MR -through their “marks”- evoke some of these intimate, informal and experimental visions, but what they share among them is indeed a conceptual-performing thread that here and there – for example in the case of Teresa Serrano, José Alfredo Elías Dabdoud or Plinio Avila- becomes more narrative. Thus, it is not so much “the how” but “that” they say what matters in a process of “drawing by drawing” – or drawing by blurring out – heading towards drawing a line.

Drawing the line…reminds us of course of the physical and composing part that is connatural to drawing, but furthermore the idea of marking a (new) territory, of setting limits, of tracing an imaginary line with its own rules. And some of these rules are of that displacement of the aforementioned means-based to the idea-based, but also to the assumption that drawing as an expressive means that rejects or subverts any hierarchy of the means: painting or video has stopped having, for Emilio Chapela or Damian Ontiveros, conceptually speaking, more importance than drawing. In this same order of things, drawing, which appealed so much to the performers, conceptualists and minimalists of the 1960s and 1970s precisely because of its “notarial nature”- has gone from wanting “to change the world” to a more modest and intimate exercise – but maybe more sincere- of “wanting to understand itself and the world around it”.

Thus, Drawing the line only comes to confirm that extraordinary reappearance and interest that drawing has been experimenting along with the arrival of a new century, a drawing that is able to grasp in an extraordinary and agile manner the temperature of our times: the corrosiveness of the neo-con economy masterly finds its reflection in the project of Damian Ontiveros, who configures a series of drawings made by students of Adam Smith in rather funambulist poses, and that allows tracing such a line between its economic philosophy and the current derivation of the capitalist system as of concepts such as “capital gain” or “work division”; the lack of political, religious and family references that destroy the human being immerse in a whirlpool of displacements, physical as well as mental and that Plinio Avila portrays with such humor through every day objects as a train or airplane ticket ; the “no-drawings” of Emilio Chapela of wrinkled papers that generate abstract landscapes and that talk about the increasingly greater non-communication of the human being; the confused and re-contextualized geniuses, dressed as travesties, of Sandra Valenzuela, clad in historical suits of illustrations of fashion magazines and executed directly on the wall as a stylized street mural; the phenomenological, satanic and dark cut papers of Ramses R. Olaya that, playing with shadows, light and space, prefigure the state of anxiety and alienation of the human being today; the sublime, esoteric and magic drawings of Teresa Serrano on a horse, between the romantic and surrealistic that make up a particular diary of everyday life; the fun and ironical reflections about the “small world” of art and its everlasting clichés drawn un a care-free fashion by Jose Alfredo Elias Dabdoub; and, finally the pastels of Carlos MR, who wagers on a de-constructive exercise: stemming from photography, the human figure starts to blur out and dissolve by playing with light and color configuring poetics from absence.Familiar, as well as strange, surreal or romantic, rebellious or functional, fantastic or intimate, the marks sketched lightly here, there with total ambiguity, over there with hermetic precision configure an expanded field of drawing that complains about and rejects any limit to configure a suggestive world of their own that in the end is nothing more than a set of ad infinitum traces of our own and incomplete ideas, visions and yearnings.

By: Paco Barragán (translated by Leticia Consuegra)