Jessie Brennan, The Cut, 2011

One-sided Introductions

Chris Fite-Wassilak

I’ve just been appointed the JVA Writer in Residence, so I wanted to say a quick hello. Quick intro: I’m Chris Fite-Wassilak, a London-based writer and curator, a few of my recent projects can be seen here, some of my writing in the current issues of frieze and Art Monthly, or if you find yourself the west cost of Ireland I’ve curated a show currently at the Galway Arts Centre. I’ll be looking at the just-opened Drawing Prize exhibition in the Jerwood Space in detail over the next few weeks, and the forthcoming Terra show in November, looking to get both some broader perspectives and sustained close-ups, open up some issues and connect things to wider debates.

Firstly congrats to all exhibiting in the Drawing Prize, a great range of methods and attitudes there and it seems about right that the founder of the prize Anita Taylor last night called the show ‘a debate of what drawing can be.’ With a show of this scope it’s impossible for me to comment on each artist in depth, but I’d prefer to veer closer to attempting that and staying away from broad ‘state of what we’re at’ sort of statements that survey shows tend to precipitate, though that is, I think, a big part of what attracts audiences to them. I do want to look more into the psychology behind our approach to drawing, and the work here provides ample fuel for thought.

The winners of the various prize winners have been announced on the JVA site, but I see it partially as my part to at least initially point onwards from there. Congrats to Kristian Fletcher for winning one of the student prizes going with his Lake, 2010 drawing, an ominous cinematic scene, reminding me in part of the layered theatricality of some Gerard Byrne photos;  Nicki Rolls’ winning the other student prize for Sketch, 2011, a stand out of the show its sly mix of sculpture and projected animation. I’d seen printed portions of Jessie Brennan’s the Cut , 2011, which won her one of the prizes, as it had been produced in cooperation with project with SPACE , but great to see it all in the flesh, while as you have more than likely heard the winner of the drawing prize is Gary Lawrence’s epic Homage to Anonymous, 2011.

This is a starting point, as the selection panel’s choices- so maybe an obvious starting point, and not where I might start, but we’ve plenty of time to get into it further. I do find it interesting that two of the physically larger and evidently time-consuming pieces of the show take the top prizes, and I’d hesitate to align the choice with a more traditional ballast of both size and the definite, visible pain-staking presence of the hand making the mark, but I’ll leave that to ponder until my next post.