A Slice through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings at Modern Art Oxford

Modern Art Oxford and Drawing Room are jointly presenting A Slice through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings, a group exhibition that celebrates the sustained power of drawing in the digital age. In an age of mass media, where the rapid proliferation of images leaves many on the verge of digital exhaustion, A Slice through the World explores the power of traditional drawing to make us slow down and reconsider how we look at the world.

The exhibition brings together a dynamic selection of 40 recent or newly commissioned works by 14 international artists, who are committed to the materiality of paper and pencil. United in their desire to interrogate not just what they see, but how they see, each artist within the exhibition employs commonplace drawing tools, often in conjunction with other multimedia techniques, to examine and respond to a variety of cultural conditions. The importance of cultural memory is a recurring theme throughout this exhibition.

The works presented pay close attention to drawing’s relationship to the complexities and problems of both the past and the present.

Nigerian-born ruby onyinyechi amanze celebrates her transcontinental experiences in large-scale colourful drawings featuring figures cavorting through space; Irish artist Kathy Prendergast questions the implications of territory, borders and settlements in her vast horizontal installation, Atlas (2016), which comprises 100 abstracted copies of the AA Road Atlas of Europe; American artist Karl Haendel, showing in the UK for the first time, assembles an array of graphite drawings in Weeks in Wet Sheets (2015), an immersive installation on the subject of water split across both venues, suggestive of an online image search realised in three-dimensional space; and David Haines, a British artist living in Amsterdam, uses drawing to play with notions of authenticity and representation in the digital age. His multi-layered, hyper-realistic works such as Meatboy and Bob Starr (2016), synthesised from images sourced from the web, question the contemporary condition in which our desire for intimacy and human contact is often filtered through the solitude of the screen.

Showcasing a remarkable attention to detail and skill, this exhibition stresses that drawing is more than just a preliminary activity; it is also an autonomous, complex and accomplished art form that can result in highly finished works. By looking at this ancient communication technology as it meets the newest forms of digitised image culture, A Slice through the World signals the resilience of drawing as a means of exploring and responding to contemporary questions of dialogue and representation, reinforcing its status as an inherently interdisciplinary medium that remains central to artistic practice across the world.

The featured artists are ruby onyinyechi amanze (b. 1982, Nigeria, lives and works in New York and Philadelphia), Nidhal Chamekh (b. 1985, Dahmani, Tunisia, lives and works in Paris and Tunis), Milano Chow (b. 1987, Los Angeles, lives and works in Los Angeles), Kate Davis (born New Zealand, lives and works in Glasgow), Karl Haendel (b. 1976, New York, lives and works in Los Angeles), David Haines (b. 1969, Nottingham, lives and works in Amsterdam), Ian Kiaer (b. 1971, London, lives and works in Oxford), Ciprian Muresan (b. 1977, Dej, Romania, lives and works in Cluj, Romania), David Musgrave (b. 1973, Stockton-On-Tees, lives and works in London), Wura-Natasha Ogunji (b. 1970, St. Louis, lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria), Kathy Prendergast (b. 1958, Dublin, lives and works in London), Massinissa Selmani (b. 1980, Algiers, Algeria, lives and works in Tours, France), Lucy Skaer (b. 1975, Cambridge, lives and works in Glasgow), and Barbara Walker (b. 1964, Birmingham, lives and works in Birmingham).

Over 30 works are presented at Modern Art Oxford, with a further 10 on display at Drawing Room, London. A fully illustrated publication featuring curatorial essays, artist biographies and images will accompany the exhibition.