The mutable language of drawing

Layering, smudging, frottage; the language of drawing is iterative, mutable. It is a language that imagines the human hand as it makes uncertain contact towards yet-known forms.

As American artist Amy Sillman reminds us, drawing in-forms, re-forms and trans-forms. Drawing within the expanded field, which considers other mediums in relation to contemporary drawing, is the ongoing project of artist and curator Daniel Press. Fabrication, a co-curatorial project with Press and Sarah Eddowes, brings together 10 contemporary artists working in the intersections of drawing and digital fabrication.

Many of the artists “consider themselves drawers, but use fabrication methods in order to convey their practice”, says Press. “One of the core premises of what we are trying to do is expand the notions of what drawing is.”


Adrian Mok, After the Abandoned, 2023. LED neon lights, acrylic sheets, ceramics, Arduino, found objects, and single-channel audio. Image courtesy of the artist.

Expand, but not make certain. While the show heightens what’s complimentary between digital and hand-drawn methods, such as a common language and practice, it also allows these relations to be tenuous. “Each artist is looking at the uncertainty of what machine mediums mean for a drawer. By not quite having the relationship worked out, it allows a dialogue,” says Press.

Works by Eddowes and Danielah Martinez experiment in 3D printed ceramics, a process singular to digital printing methods in its requirement of the artist’s hand to guide the material. The co-action of hand and machine invites room for distortion of the sculptural forms, heightening slippages between human and machine agency. These slippages, for Adrian Mok, further straddle the archetypal and the speculative. Using digital modes of production that draw upon Taoist shrine iconography, his sculptural forms speak to both diaspora alienation and futurity.

Contemporary drawing as a throughline for the exhibition is also playfully ambiguous. “It’s not immediately clear where the drawn line comes in,” explains Press. “There’s a few anchors in the show where people will be able to focus in on and say, ‘That’s a drawing,’ but I think we really test the limits.”

DRAW Space
2—26 May

This article was originally published in the May/June 2024 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Saaro Umar