Drawing is one of the most primeval and straightforward means of making art, with an intimacy close to handwriting that other mediums can lack. The artist Paul Klee famously compared this freewheeling, organic quality of drawing with walking in The Pedagogical Sketchbook (1925), calling it, ‘An active line on a walk, moving freely without a goal. A walk for a walk’s sake.’ This immediacy means mistakes and corrections are less easy to cover up, but these can give artworks an approachable, human quality. Moreover, unlike paintings, with drawings on paper there is less need to fill the whole page, so empty space can become an important feature of the work.
David Shrigley makes use of both these qualities in his small scale, satirical felt pen drawings which set cartoonish scenarios against a white backdrop. He uses slapstick humour and his own unique, childish style to comment on the human condition. His black and white drawings are often punctuated with mistakes such as scribbled out parts or misspelt words, giving them an approachable vulnerability. ‘Untitled (Crap)’, 2007 is one of many works by the artist which poke fun at the established conventions of the art world, sometimes taking itself much too seriously.
While Shrigley’s work relies on humour and simplicity, Charles Avery’s large format drawings in pencil and ink are considered and meticulously executed. All his drawings centre around a single project titled ‘The Islanders’, a fictional island of his own creation for which he has invented characters, places and scenarios. In ‘Untitled (View of the Port at Onomatopoeia)’, (2009-10) Avery immerses the viewer in the busy port of Onomatopoeia, the main town of the island. Like many of his drawings this work is entirely improvised, evolving as he works on the white page. Avery also explores different degrees of completion, focussing more attention to the centre and less to the edges of the plane, allowing an open ended, organic quality to remain.
Rob Churm’s drawings are also highly improvised and take a variety of guises that link to his joint interest in music, from decorating night club stages to designing posters and flyers for bands. He relies on informal materials such as biro, Tipp-Ex, felt-tip pen and photocopy toner. Churm’s ambiguous images are comprised of dense grids or cross hatched marks combined with fluid lines and empty, open space, resembling Japanese prints, comic book pages or excerpts from a surrealist periodical.