Magazine article Artforum International

Mark Manders

Magazine article Artforum International

Mark Manders

Article excerpt

DRAWING CENTER/GREENE NAFTALI

Dutch artist Mark Manders's recent installation at the Drawing Center's Drawing Room was one of the most unassuming and compelling exhibitions of contemporary art in recent memory. Simple graphite drawings were tacked to the walls; strips of masking tape, some with bits of text, were interspersed throughout; and a thick pile of drawings, wrapped neatly with string so that all but the topmost were unavailable for viewing, lay on the floor. The drawings, like the installation itself, had an expressive, direct, childlike quality that complemented the artist's mythic and metaphysical preoccupations without seeming contrived.

In a statement in the exhibition catalogue, Manders says that for him "drawing is research into thinking rather than an investigation of perception." He sometimes draws classically, as in Three Touched Numbers/Drawing with Bathtub, 1996-2000, then furiously scribbles over part of the work, rubs or erases here, tears the paper there--whatever works. Occasionally he uses a straightedge, as in Drawing with Vanishing Point (fragment from self-portrait as a building), 1998. These divergent approaches combine to suggest an urgency in his project of rendering ephemeral images before they vanish. It seems to be less the content of a thought that matters to Manders so much as the structures that are attached, however dimly, to the act of thinking. The suggestion is that there's an aspect of who we are that is generally obscured by reason; and that an artist might sneak up on and depict something of this subconscious reality, however obscurely. These drawings are sketches of a world as germane as it is cloistered, one that's every bit as preternatural as de Chirico's or Duchamp's.

A few characters feature in a number of the drawings, which Manders regards as an extension of an overarching project, Self-Portrait as a Building, 1986-. …

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