A group exhibition of drawings
5 April to 26 April 2020
RK Contemporary, Riebeek Kasteel

View works online

BRETT SHUMAN | Elegy (diptych), pencil crayon on compressed polystyrene

In today’s contemporary art world drawing is experiencing a noticeable renaissance – in short, it’s hot.

As the subtitle of a cover story on the topic in a recent edition of the US magazine ArtNews reads “From fractured fairy tales to abstract geometries, to observatories of the night sky, drawing is becoming to many artists a primary medium.” In other words, visual artists are not only now drawing more than ever, but many are only drawing.

A few years ago the exhibition ‘Drawing Now – Eight Propositions’ organised by Laura Hoptman at New York’s Museum of Modern Art garnered ecstatic reviews.

Peter Schjeldahl writing in the New Yorker described the show as “a trailblazing event for an art world that has sorely needed one”, also noting that it affirms that a search is on for renewed standards of mastery, validity and eloquence in a medium (ie. drawing) that has historically been the bedrock of the visual arts. MOMA has significantly increased it’s contemporary holdings with a gift of more than 2,600 drawings by 640 established and emerging artists dating from the past three decades.

Also well received was ‘Vitamin D — New Perspectives in Drawing’ curated by Emma Dexter at the Tate Modern in London — a comprehensive exhibition that presented the work of 109 artists who have emerged on the international art scene since 1990 and who
actively make drawings.

Currently exhibiting in Britain and attracting large crowds is ‘Leonardo da Vinci : A Life in Drawing’ which marks the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. The show brings together 80 of the Renaissance Master’s greatest drawings in the Royal Collection.
The exhibition reveals that drawing served as Leonardo’s laboratory, allowing him to work out his ideas on paper and search for the universal laws that he believed underpinned all of creation.

ADRIAN OWEN | Unite | charcoal, pastel, acrylic on canvas panel

So what accounts for the current resurgence of interest in this age old medium in the art world? Perhaps it’s a nostalgic longing for something that exudes integrity in an increasingly fast-paced, superficial world that seeks novelty. As often noted, drawing is the oldest visual artistic medium, dating back to prehistoric times when cave dwellers used burnt sticks or pigments to make marks, usually for ritualistic and religious purposes either on stone surfaces or directly in the earth.

There is something honest about a drawing – you cannot have too many flaws, you cannot hide mistakes – unlike in a painting where technical tricks are often employed to hide a multitude of sins. To quote Salvador Dali – ‘Drawing is the honesty of art. There is no possibility of cheating. It is either good or bad.’ Or Philip Morsberger – ‘Show me an artist in the public eye who can’t draw and I’ll show you a charlatan.’ A good drawing never fails to entrance, to engage, to envelop the viewer between the lines in a way that few other mediums are able to do. Because drawing is so direct and immediate, it invites artists to engage this age-old medium, enfolding the act with the product, and the innovative with the timeless.

SUSAN BLOEMHOF It doesn’t really wash unless you get into it emotionally charcoal and pastel on Fabriano

Coinciding with ‘Drawing from the Collection’ currently on at Iziko South African National Gallery — RK Contemporary is hosting ‘Drawn In’, a group exhibition of drawings.

The exhibition, curated by Astrid McLeod and Brett Shuman, is not theme based, giving the invited artists free reign to fully explore the medium within their own creative parameters.
The signature work by Brett Shuman, a large diptych titled ‘Elegy’ juxtaposes his interpretations of Velasquez’s ‘Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Blue Dress’ and Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ as allegories highlighting the universal duality and paradoxical parallels of cause and effect being experienced in a world of increasing societal division.

The exhibition features works by Jenny Parsons, Cathy Layzell, Jeannette Unite, Antoinette von Saurma, Susan Bloemhof, Christopher Peter, Adrian Owen and Ade Kipades.

ADE KIPADES | Body as suit | compressed charcoal on Schoellershammer paper


JENNY PARSONS | Wall | Ink on Saunders paper


ANTOINETTE VON SAURMA | Deity | collage of various papers and ink on glass


SUSAN BLOEMHOF | Drifting away from anything real charcoal and pastel on Fabriano

“A good drawing never fails to entrance, to engage, to
envelop the viewer between the lines in a way that few
other mediums are able to do.”