Tales from the Drawing Room; Artists from Liverpool's Twin City Cologne Bring Alive the Basic Art of Drawing at the Bluecoat

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Byline: MIKE CHAPPLE

THE Bluecoat Gallery's latest exhibition ZK forms part of the ongoing cultural link between Liverpool and its longest established twin city Cologne. Opening tomorrow it follows on from Bluecoat's last exhibition of Cologne artists in 2000.

Cologne is one of the most vibrant and dynamic European cities for contemporary art.

But rather than attempt to give an overview of its enormously varied art scene, this exhibition which runs until September 4 focuses on a particularly rich and potent area of artistic practice -- drawing and presents a varied selection of works from seven Cologne artists, including a specially commissioned site-specific work by Heike Weber.

Katja Davar has created a pair of intensively worked, painstakingly reproduced images of the vapour trails and clouds that resulted from the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle. In these very large works on paper, the materially insubstantial appears to have transformed into a solid sculptural substance, reinforcing the iconic nature of the original source of these images.

Trixi Groiss presents a selection of six works from her series, One Hundred Naked Men -- in which the subjects are neither all naked, nor all men. Reminiscent of an anthropological exercise, a collection of examples of exotic species, the creatures depicted are in fact, invented hybrid beings. The drawings of tattooed men are a weird combination of their unsettling direct gaze and the ornamental decorations on their bodies -- drawings within drawings.

Svenja Kreh draws her imagery from quotations from everyday popular cultural forms -- newspapers, comic strips, science fiction films and stories and graffiti. In the surreal flow of images, traces can be discerned, of strange beings, part angel, part android, in an opulent decorative setting.

Silke Schatz draws initially from her own personal experiences to explore wider socio-political ideals, using the structures of design and architecture to express her ideas. In this exhibition, her large-scale drawings from memory depict the elephant house at the Cologne Zoo, which the artist sometimes visits with her young daughter.

Built in 1864 in the oriental style, the elephant house represents the exotic, but also the colonialism of western society. It is also both a delightful place to visit as well as one of sadness, poignant with the beauty of the creatures living in man-made confinement.

Heike Weber has created a special site-specific drawing in the curved alcove space of Bluecoat's gallery 2. Working with materials such as pins and thread, she creates line drawings in space, that are not only drawings, but three-dimensional sculptural interventions into the architecture of buildings. Here she also shows works from her recent series of ink drawings of firework displays.

The exhibition also includes a combined landscape and self-portrait as a child, made in 64 separate pieces by Vincent Tavenne, and drawings in lacquer by Joseph Zehrer from his Brechtleser (Brecht reader) series.

The display has been brought together by Catherine Gibson the Bluecoat's exhibitions curator.

She visited Cologne and found the artists herself, a job she performed for the gallery's last Cologne exhibition four years ago. …