Drawing a Line at Five Myles

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Installation view

A line drawing is a dot that went for a walk,

-Paul Klee, Pedagogical Sketchbook

From line drawings and cutouts to wall reliefs and sculptures, lines shift forms throughout the group exhibition Drawing a Line at Five Myles. Curator Klaudia Ofwona Draber says she was inspired by the gallery founder Hanne Tierney’s vision to organize a drawing exhibition. Ofwona Draber’s interest in social justice and post-colonialism guided her choice of artists as well as the theme of the exhibition – drawing a line as an action of drawing boundaries, whether to protect personal boundaries in the quietude of one’s own home, or at the heart of a political conflict. “By drawing a line, we protect ourselves, our families and our communities from the violence and inequalities that are happening around us,” says Ofwona Draber.

Sisterhood, the powerful hand-drawn animation by Serbia-based artist Jelena Prljević, reflects most poignantly the intersection between the inside – self, family, home – and outside – politics, society, country. In this moving and intimate tale, the artist uses expressive lines, flickering layers of light, erasures, and shadows to build the notion of home and desire for stability without slipping into sentimentality or pathos. Using an abandoned house from childhood as a metaphor, the story unfolds as a dialogue between sisters, describing an intimate experience of early maturing from a child’s viewpoint – the bond between sisters fuses past and present, while coalescing fragments of a personal biography within a dissolving country.

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Jelena Prljević, Sisterhood, 2018, Hand-drawn animation, Duration: 07:07
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Installation view

Diagonally across the gallery space, Roberta Allen’s eight Mind Drawings mounted in two rows combine hand-written text below spiraling linear spheres, altogether linking with Prljević’s animation in surprising ways. Although these two artists express very different sensibilities, they share a strong sense of storytelling through the immediacy of mark-making, both attempting to capture with admirable precision a specific fleeing moment. Drawn with gold or copper ink on black paper, Allen’s text and image interplay to impact our perception. For instance, chaotic strands of entangled bright lines with cellular formations hover above a text saying – Out of control thoughts that can’t find the mind. Invoking pages from an esoteric book about to cast a spell, as well as x-rays or images of microscopic forms, these abstracted luminous lines and texts give a sense of the primordial, of the very moment before language and image form meaning.

Roberta Allen, Mind Drawings, 2019-2020, Gold or copper ink on black paper, 9 x 12 inches each (9 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches . Photo courtesy of Etty Yaniv

Sa’dia Rehman’s two cut-out charcoal on newsprint also express the immediacy of making marks, here in form of cuts. Based on photos of identification such as passports, driver’s licenses, or visas, the two charcoal headshots are cut, rubbed and erased. Most noticeably, both become silhouettes with a missing face, erased and cut in an act of imposing power, or even violence. Here the personal is void in context of governmental standardization of surveillance. Only the deep cuts and the shadow-like rubbing around them mark the individuality of the subject.

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Sa’dia Rehman, 2019, Charcoal on hand-cut newsprint, 12 x 16 inches

If Sa’dia Rehman’s cutouts can be seen as somewhere in between two and three dimensional forms, Ewa Harbasz’s objects on an elongated table, represent the other end of the linear range, striking the most visceral cord. These sculptures create another layered dialogue with Prljević’s narrative of trauma, memory, and healing. Here the gauze lines wrap around organic and natural matter like hair and stone, hinting at a process of bandaging a wound – creating these sculptures as a process of healing the body and nature. Bandaged stones resembling bones or teeth, resonate with an urgent attempt to heal traumas of personal suffering, wars, and environmental calamities. Overall, the unexpected interconnectivity within the wide range of linear forms and expressions in Drawing a Line, makes it an affecting experience for the viewer.

Ewa Harabasz, From the Wrapped Stones series, 2005, 6 x 14 x 3 inches, Stone, tape, print, board

All photos by Argenis Apolinario unless otherwise indicated

Drawing a Line at Five Myles, through Jan 2, 2022 Curated by Klaudia Ofwona Draber; Artists: Roberta Allen, Andrea Alfaro Rizek, Lucile Bertrand, Crystal Z Campbell, Jelena Prljević, Sa’dia Rehman, Oasa DuVerney, Ewa Harabasz, Baseera Khan, Nate Lewis, Pema Rinzin

FiveMyles was founded and incorporated as a non-profit in 1999. FiveMyles’ mission is to advance public interest in innovative experimental work; to identify and exhibit the work of under-represented artists, and to engage the local community through participation in the arts. FiveMyles’ space is entirely wheelchair accessible.

Etty Yaniv works on her art, art writing and curatorial projects in Brooklyn. She founded Art Spiel as a platform for highlighting the work of contemporary artists, including art reviews, studio visits, interviews with artists, curators, and gallerists. For more details contact by Email: artspielblog@gmail.com