Mounira al Solh, Catherine Anyango Grünewald, Andrea Bowers, Nidhal Chamekh, Eugenio Dittborn, Joy Gerrard, Leon Golub, Beatriz González, George Grosz, Erik van Lieshout, Lorna Simpson, Nancy Spero and Rirkrit Tiravanija
Graphic Witness brings together work made in the 20th century by Eugenio Dittborn, George Grosz, Leon Golub, Beatriz González and Nancy Spero and artworks made today by artists working across the globe.
The exhibition demonstrates the power of drawing to challenge and question, its capacity to record and reflect protest, and to produce images that bear witness to social injustice and even the horrors of war. The drawings move beyond documentation of man’s inhumanity to man, and become active agents in understanding how political ideals are corrupted, and a reminder not to stand by, but to act.
“I think of myself as a kind of reporter; I report on the nature of certain events. I think of art as a report on civilization at a certain time.” – Leon Golub
“To bear witness is not only to observe but also to provide proof and testify” – Andrea Bowers
Drawing is particularly suited to representing evidence as it is a legible medium; to look closely at a drawing is to trace the history of its making and in this sense each drawing acts as its own witness. The artists in Graphic Witness employ different drawing modes to produce evidence of conflict and suffering, commentaries on injustice and as tools to prompt social change. These wide ranging graphic responses question accepted histories, speculate on alternative scenarios and propose new trajectories.
Graphic Witness is curated by Kate Macfarlane (curator and co-director, Drawing Room) and is related to a chapter commissioned for The Companion to Contemporary Drawing (editors Kelly Chorpening and Rebecca Fortnum, Wiley Blackwell, 2018). The chapter is the second in the first section of the Companion which considers ‘The Power of Drawing’.