Linework

Meandering or meticulous, organic or linear, the majority of humankind's collective artwork was started with a line. Ponder how lines carried an artwork from inception to completion for this group of exhibiting artists at the Priscilla Fowler Fine Art Gallery.

April 1 - June 30, 2020

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When an artist begins to create, they often start with a line. A scratch, gesture, or stroke, sketched in graphite or outlined in color. In this collection, we can begin to trace how these larger forms were conceived by looking more closely and tracing their linework.

It is easy to see why Charles Livingston’s Infinite Drawing series epitomizes this exercise, but when looking closely it can be the most challenging example. The selection of these four, made with pen on tracing paper between 2007 and 2010, stretch the thin black line to a farther potential. The first in this array is made up of nearly 4,000 lines, spiderwebbing across to unique points, exploding out to the next dot nearby. The subsequent artworks create a dark bar-code, a dense grid of polygons, or the most extensive squiggle imaginable. Take a step back and you’ll begin to see the similar forms that carry throughout each artwork, the only difference is the pattern and different line densities that each comprises.

An artist’s beginning lines typically have a sketched quality, erased or covered by the colored mediums that make up a painting’s final form, but who’s to say that a line’s simplicity can be any less inspired or conclusive? David Baird’s Same Ten Strings series shows how the unembellished line can be explored and manipulated endlessly. The viewer can imagine the casual toss of these strings in literal form, overlapping in a calming assembly through each iteration.

Contrast these with William Thielen’s Untitled series’ 619 and 622, where lines fill the canvas in a much more pronounced approach. The lines have varying weights and appear more hand-drawn, providing a black and white backdrop to the focal, pink circles. As color makes its way into this selection of works, it is important to evoke the black and white simplicity that lines can use to prepare a work of art, or illude the viewer’s eye.

Stephanie Serpick’s drawing selection demonstrates the forming of lines into more figurative forms. Through more careful line techniques, we start to make out tufts, feathers, or a hat, sketched in pencil. Our eyes start to settle on a whole object comprised of lines that add up to the entire configuration. In the lighter areas of the feathers, we can start to recognize lines made by erasing the graphite, subtracting the medium rather than adding to it.

Even more precise and formative, Alexander Lui creates sharp landscapes in ink. These surreal forms are increasingly perplexing as you start to find the organic patterns inside each configuration. What may have begun with sketches in less permanent media arrange themselves in a bold, dark imagination.

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William Thielen - Untitled #619 (echo chamber)

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