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LIA ANNA HENNIG
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Peter Suchin
Drawing as a Matter of Course
2011

 

Extract of the text accompanying the 3-person exhibition 'A World of Drawings' with Felicity Powell and Virginia Verran

This exhibition presents three distinct approaches to that very old, yet still vivid and volatile thing we call drawing, using this term in a wide and generous sense that proposes an openness of approach, technique, intention and result. One might slyly or playfully reverse the title of the exhibition, A World of Drawings, and regard Lia Anna Hennig, Felicity Powell and Virginia Verran as having each produced their own particular world, “country” or character of drawing, the idiosyncrasies of which the present exhibition emphasises through the bringing together of these three artists. Drawing may sometimes be seen as a minor or subservient art form, a thing carried out in preparation for the making of larger or  more substantial works, but the artists in A World of Drawing all employ this practice for its own sake, and not simply as a means to an end.     

Lia Anna Hennig’s pictures are comprised of an immense complexity and overlaying of tiny marks, a myriad of strokes and squiggles, meandering rivulets of black and red ink that seem to both bind together the dominant image Hennig has chosen to depict and, at the same time, pull it apart. For if the focus is on, at one level, a foodstuff or a natural form (spaghetti, a mushroom, a human or animal figure), on another one is drawn into the physicality of the picture’s actual make-up, its compositional or material “substance” as a made thing. Hennig’s intense, concentrated images, assembled through the juxtaposition and interweaving of thousands and thousands of strokes of the pen, literally embody the substantial amount of time taken over an individual work. Although there is the implication of an “organic” or pseudo-biological order to Hennig’s drawings when viewed close up, at the same time what one is, on such close inspection, party to, is the act of drawing itself. The squiggles, spirals and stippled patterns Hennig deploys are both inventive and, within a given drawing, constrained, limited as though they might together form an alphabet or lexicon of letters or other iterable signs. Even if, when one looks closely at these works, one can see numerous tiny pictures of figures or fruits, one nonetheless encounters what one might term the purity of the signifier, the limit point at which the picture becomes an unadulterated concatenation of marks. To zoom into Hennig’s drawings is to encounter an intensity of surface detail, the liveliness and complexity of which is an important part of the attractiveness of the work. Often dealing with subject matter that implies or projects the breakdown of boundaries, Hennig’s drawings enact such a dissolution between content and its rendition through the seductiveness of their physical materiality.    

...

A World of Drawings, then, displays in miniature the diversity, potential, intelligence and energy of drawing at the present time.

 

Peter Suchin is an artist and critic, and a regular contributor to Art Monthly and Frieze