Collection

DRAF is responsible for the David and Indrė Roberts Collection. Started in the mid 1990s, the Collection currently comprises over 2,000 works. It focuses on contemporary works but also includes some modern works. It is not focused on a specific medium, generation or geographical area.

01 Artists

The David and Indrė Roberts Collection includes works by more than 600 artists, including: 

Caroline Achaintre, Horst Ademeit, Craigie Aitchinson, Doug Aitken, Ozlem Altin, Danai Anesiadou, Ida Applebroog, Charles Avery, John Baldessari, Miroslaw Balka, Fiona Banner, Sara Barker, Phyllida Barlow, Yto Barrada, Nina Beier, Neil Beloufa, Walead Beshty, Huma Bhabha, Pierre Bismuth, Karla Black, Peter Blake, Katinka Bock, Louise Bourgeois, Carol Bove, Martin Boyce, Boyle Family, Mark Bradford, Candice Breitz, Cecily Brown, Peter Buggenhout, Daniel Buren, Gerald Byrne, Miriam Cahn, Varda Caivano, Anthony Caro, Maurizio Cattelan, Patrick Caulfield, Etienne Chambaud, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Marieta Chirulescu, Dan Colen, George Condo, Quilla Constance AKA Jennifer Allen, Nigel Cooke, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Keith Coventry, Tony Cragg, Michael Craig-Martin, Martin Creed, Gregory Crewdson, John Currin, Aaron Curry, Keren Cytter, Dexter Dalwood, Enrico David, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Richard Deacon, Michael Dean, Wim Delvoye, Thomas Demand, Jason Dodge, Peter Doig, Tara Donovan, Alex Dordoy, Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Shannon Ebner, Gardar Eide Einarsson, Tracey Emin, Inka Essenhigh, Cerith Wyn Evans, Valie Export, Ayan Farah, Tessa Farmer, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Spencer Finch, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Lucian Freud, Simon Fujiwara, Barnaby Furnas, Cyprien Gaillard, Neil Gall, Ellen Gallagher, Dora GarcÌa, Theaster Gates, Kendell Geers, Gilbert and George, Adrian Ghenie, Luigi Ghirri, Jim Goldberg, Douglas Gordon, Antony Gormley, Laurent Grasso, Rodney Graham, Harry Gruyaert, Subodh Gupta, Andreas Gursky, Philip Guston, Marcus Harvey, Mona Hatoum, Eberhard Havekost, Raphaele Hefti, Jeppe Hein, Lothar Hempel, Eva Hesse, Damien Hirst, Alexander Hoda, Jenny Holzer, Jonathan Horowitz, Thomas Houseago, Peter Howson, Zhang Huan, Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler, Graham Hudson, Des Hughes, Marine Hugonnier, Gary Hume, Bethan Huws, Pierre Huyghe, Nathan Hylden, Jorg Immendorff, Matthew Day Jackson, Richard Jackson, Sergej Jensen, Renaud Jerez, Chantal Joffe, Rashid Johnson, Jitish Kallat, Anish Kapoor, Ian Kiaer, Anselm Kiefer, Martin Kippenberger, Leon Kossoff, Yayoi Kusama, Gerald Laing, Jim Lambie, Michael Landy, Elad Lassry, John Latham, Lars Laumann, Bob Law, Leigh Ledare, Sol Lewitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Liliane Lijn, George Henry Longly, Nate Lowman, Sarah Lucas, Nina Beier & Marie Lund, Markus Lupertz, Tala Madani, Lee Maelzer, Benoit Maire, David Maljkovic, Victor Man, Mark Manders, Christian Marclay, Kris Martin, Patrizio Di Massimo, Paul McCarthy, Bruce McLean, Susan Meiselas, Marilyn Minter, Joan Miro, Donald Moffett, Jonathan Monk, Henry Moore, Katy Moran, Helmut Newton, Roman Ondak, Julian Opie, Tony Oursler, Eduardo Paolozzi, Marlo Pascual, A.R. Penck, Grayson Perry, Seth Pick, Pablo Pijnappel, Falke Pisano, Reto Pulfer, Marc Quinn, Nathaniel Rackowe, Benedict Radcliffe, Rashid Rana, Man Ray, Paula Rego, Tobias Rehberger, Anselm Reyle, Manuela Ribadeneira, Gerhard Richter, Bridget Riley, Damien Roach, Pietro Roccasalva, James Rosenquist, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Doris Salcedo, Wilhelm Sasnal, Thomas Scheibitz, Markus Schinwald, David Schutter, Indre Serpytyte, George Shaw, Raqib Shaw, Conrad Shawcross, Cindy Sherman, Erin Shirreff, Yinka Shonibare, Jamie Shovlin, David Shrigley, Santiago Sierra, Lorna Simpson, Dirk Skreber, Andreas Slominski, Anj Smith, Bob & Roberta Smith, Kaspar Sonne, Simon Starling, John Stezaker, Catherine Sullivan, Eve Sussman, Adam Thompson, Mark Titchner, Wolfgang Tillmans, Ryan Gander and Mario Garcia Torres, Rosemarie Trockel, Oscar Tuazon, William Turnbull, Ian Tweedy, Keith Tyson, Fredrik Vaerslev, Lesley Vance, Joana Vasconcelos, Banks Violette/ Gardar Eide Einarsson, Ulla von Brandenburg, Danh Vo, Mark Wallinger, Andy Warhol, Rebecca Warren, Gary Webb, Ai Weiwei, Franz West, Michael Wilkinson, Feng Zhengjie, Jakub Julian Ziolkowski, Thomas Zipp. 

02 Collection Postcards

 

Collection Postcards are weekly stories from the David and Indrė Roberts Collection.

08.04.2021
A woman in a two piece suit is urinating whilst standing up, in the background the SIS building is visible. Black and white photograph.

Sophy Rickett
VAUXHALL BRIDGE (from the series Pissing Woman), 1995
120 x 120 cm

The Pissing Woman series depicts Rickett publicly urinating standing up, wearing a tailored suit jacket and a skirt. In this work, taken on Vauxhall Bridge in central London she is depicted against the backdrop of the SIS (Secret Intelligent Service) Building, the home of MI6, located on the south side of the river Thames. The selected locations for these night-time performances made for the camera are all associated with patriarchal power, order and in this case suave, if not misogynist, male spies along the lines of James Bond.

The bow in her stance and the way her hands are positioned ‘just so’ suggest Rickett has taken care to make the act of urinating seem as ‘manly’ as possible. To be a woman taking that space is therefore not only a rebellion; it is a parody of phallic fetishisation that takes on multiple masculine stereotypes in the act.

 

29.03.2021

A dark blue wool rug depicting bats, some caught in the ray of a torch, hangs draped over a black steel frame

Than Hussein Clark 
Java Nocturne (Above my library-whim!), 2014 
Wool, silk, rayon, PVC, tensile, leather, chanler Welsh mountain wool, blackened tulipwood, steel, brass 
280 x 210 x 20 cm 

At the centre of this sculpture is a woven rug depicting the beam from a torch shining on bat wings, flapping against a dark sky.  

Clark’s work ‘queers the canon’ of modernist architecture, decorative arts and theatre, to explore new trajectories of these histories. In this case, Java Nocturne recasts stories of travel writer and novelist Bruce Chatwin (1940-1989), known for his novel, In Patagonia (1977). Chatwin allegedly started his travelogue about the South American region following a conversation with Eileen Gray at her modernist villa E-1027 on the southern French coast.  

Renowned for his storytelling abilities, Chatwin’s writing tolnot a half-truth but a truth and a half (according to Nicholas Shakespeare, who was Chatwin’s biographer). Clark relates this embellishment tChatwin disguising his bisexuality and being HIV-positive (Matthew McLean, Frieze, 2014). Rather than telling his friends he had AIDS, he claimed to have contracted an extremely rare tropical disease after inhaling bat guano in an Indonesian cave.  

The hand-tufted rug is in part woven from wool taken from Chatwin’s sheep, bred at his farm in Wales. Each work in the series Java Nocturne has been given a subtitle taken from Oscar Wilde and is displayed as Eileen Gray might have styled them in her villa. With all these elements coming together Clark mixes design history, mythology and queer experience in a celebration of Chatwin’s self-fictioning. 

 

22.03.2021

Huma Bhabha
What is Love, 2013
Cork, styrofoam, acrylic paint, oil stick, lipstick
203 x 30.5 x 36 cm

At a towering 2 meters high and 30 centimeters deep this is a totemic representation of a body. It is carved from cork from the torso down and the head and shoulders are made from small squares of Styrofoam that have a greenish hue. Whilst this could be an artefact from pre-modern times, the big circular shapes that mark the ears make the figure look futuristic. Barbara Casavecchia, in her 2017 DRAF Study of this work, made a comparison to Star Wars’ Princess Leia, who she notes was in turn ‘inspired by 2500-year-old limestone image’ of an Iberian priestess.

The title is a reference to the 1993 Haddaway dance classic of the same name, posed as a question without a question mark that Bhabha leaves purposely open-ended. ‘I let the materials dictate… till I am satisfied. I spend a lot of time looking,’ Bhabha has said about her process, which involves using discarded items she finds in Poughkeepsie, in upstate New York, where she has her studio.

 

15.03.2021

Seven front pages of a newspaper, the Herald Tribune, hang in white frames in a horizontal line. All the images have been replaced with collages of minimalist grids and geometric shapes in red, blue, yellow, black or white

Marine Hugonnier Art for Modern Architecture Herald Tribune, week Monday 29 November – Monday 6 December, 2004 (Homage to Ellsworth Kelly), 2005
Paper clips from Ellsworth Kelly’s book Line Form Color onto newspaper front pages; in seven parts
each: 55.5 x 40.5 cm 

Art for Modern Architecture is a series of collages (2004ongoing) in which Hugonnier takes front pages from major newspapers and covers the images with silk screened, coloured paper in either red, yellow, green, magenta, cyan or black, the colours of the Kodak colours chart. The pages she chooses report on major historical events, for example the fall of the Berlin wall, the assassination of JFK or the turn of the millennium. She keeps the text intact, thereby investigating the role of the image, obscuring its documentary function.  

In this instance, seven sequential front pages of the Herald Tribune haven been covered with cutouts taken from Ellsworth Kelly’s book Line Form Color, which comprises a series of studies in the form of drawings and collageKnown for his use of bright colourKelly was an American painter, printmaker and sculptor associated with Minimalism and color field painting. In collaging Kelly’s imagery over the top of the newspaper photos, Hugonnier is looking to recontextualise Kelly’s preoccupation with form and primary colours as a means to communicate ideas. 

 

08.03.2021

A black office vitrine contains a poem in white letters, reading 'And I sleep. An impulse towards destruction manifests. Contrary to construction. Desperation. Isolation. Desolation. Blocked. Where nothing new for the moment Is constructed. Of breaking every perceivable object of vision. Of utter incomprehension. A complete incapacity to think. And I sleep in the knowledge that nothing will have changed when I wake. And when I wake a great silence answers.'Bethan Huws
Untitled, 2002
Word vitrine, aluminium, glass, rubber and plastic letters
100 x 75 x 4.5 cm

It reads:

And I sleep.

An impulse towards destruction manifests.
Contrary to construction.
Desperation. Isolation. Desolation.
Blocked. Where nothing new for the moment
Is constructed.
Of breaking every perceivable object of vision.
Of utter incomprehension.
A complete incapacity to think.
And I sleep in the knowledge that nothing
will have changed when I wake.
And when I wake a great silence answers.

Known for deconstructing and playing with the structure of language in her work, Huws first created a Word Vitrine using standard office display boards in 1999, following an interest in Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades.

Perhaps what Huws is describing above could also be called ‘writer’s block’ — a great slumber or hibernation from creative processes. In many ways the last year has had echoes of this feeling, with galleries, museums, theatres and gig venues being shut for long periods and a firm ‘stay home’ order in place. Yet, just like Huws’ vitrine and the concrete poem it houses, beautiful things can be created despite or even because of blocks to creativity.

 

05.03.2021

Wolfgang Tillmans
Silver 80, 2011
c-print
239 x 181 cm

Tillmans become known in the 1990s for his candid yet casual photographs of friends, club scenes and everyday moments. His shots of the early 90s techno scene, rave-culture and involvement in gay rights movements saw his images hang both in contemporary art galleries and be printed in street style or fashion magazines. Moving into the 2000s his work become more abstract.

Silver 80 is a material investigation into the medium of photography and modes of image production. To create this series Tillmans put undeveloped photosensitive paper through a printer that purposefully wasn’t particularly clean. Any residues such as dust would thereby leave traces on the surface of the paper as it reacted to light and chemical processes. Acting as a counterbalance to the subject/object relationships in his figurative photos, the abstract Silver series are photographs created without a camera directly questioning form and colour.

 

22.02.2021

Creme sculpture consisting of two thin sharp portruding objects coming off a rectangular base. On is shaped like a door handle.

Franz West
Paßstück / Adaptive, c. 1984
wood, plastic, iron, papier-mâché, gauze, plaster, dispersion
92 x 49 x 39 cm 

Paßstücke are sculptures intended for interaction, to be picked up and used, not merely looked at. West has described them both as prostheses and visual representations of neuroses, suggesting a direct relationship to the body (Kito Ned, Tate Etc, 2019)Though as this rather unforgiving shape suggests, they were never designed with ergonomics in mind, rather inviting awkward poses as the viewer/user tried to find an impossible, snug fit.  

West first produced one of his Adaptives in 1974. Most of these social objects started life as found items that he would cover in plaster and papier-mâché, adding various twists, turns and protrusions, until the original form could not quite be discerned anymore. By 1984, the year he made this particular PaßstückWest had pushed the concept further still to create bigger, furniture-like pieces, equally accompanied by a sign encouraging their use.  

Never solely interested in the formalist qualities of his work, Franz West was heavily influenced by thinkers working in his hometown, Vienna, including the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and psychoanalysts Jaques Lacan and Sigmund Freud (though rejecting the latter’s theory of drives). Whilsengaging with intellectualism, West’s art strived to create something that was ultimately unpretentious and playful.

 

16.02.2021

A small bald flying figure is excreting yellow liquid, presumably urinating, over two grown men who are swimming in the same liquid. One looks outraged whilst the other, older man, who is wearing goggles looks happy.

Tala Madani
Cupid piss with goggles, 2011
oil on linen
50.8 x 45.7 cm

Tala Madani’s paintings lay bare hyper-masculine tropes, ‘men behaving badly’, middle-aged men often depicted in the midst of violent, sexual or absurd acts. As is the case with the two in Cupid piss with goggles (2011), when Madani paints male figures they often seem obsessed with bodily fluids, reveling in almost ritualistic acts of excretion that appear at least as perverted as they are infantile. She adds dark humour to her subjects as a means to disarm and comment on the effects similar behavior has on wider contemporary society.

Across the history of painting the figure of Cupid is often depicted as a flying man-child, a male adult depicted at the size of a toddler, though sometimes also still sporting some chubby baby fat. Supposedly Cupid came to have this boyish depiction to indicate that love is irrational. It is precisely these gendered stereotypes that Madani seeks to address.

Her bald Cupid is flying sat in the meditative hero pose. The character is somewhat reminiscent of a bhikkhu (a Buddhist monk), but one that carries a cheeky, smug smile as he is producing a stream of mustard coloured urine. Whilst the man without protective eye gear is seemingly outraged by this, his older companion in goggles appears to be enjoying the experience. His broad smile conveys Madani’s comic style, which makes her often uncomfortable scenarios a more enjoyable viewing experience.

 

10.02.2021

A block of three folding chairs are hung low on the wall. The furthest left is green and draped in a red elastic cord, the middle is grey and has a big laminated piece of paper that reads '261' on the seat. The last chair is white with a yellow trim.

Magali Reus
Parking (Legs At Eye Level), 2014
fibreglass, polyester resin, pigment, screen print on PVC, elastic cord, powder coated laser cut aluminium
57 x 140 x 49 cm

Magali Reus’ seats carefully mimic the look of the mass-produced kind found in waiting rooms or stadia, but are in fact each completely handmade. When Reus produced the Parking series she was interested in the strategic manipulation of everyday objects, particularly in relation to how humans use public and ubiquitous spaces, such as airports, hospitals or sports arenas.

The sculptures in this series are littered with objects that prop open, cover or otherwise surround the seats, alluding to a human presence that has perhaps just popped away and has put something down as a placeholder. The placard which reads ‘261’ enhances the feeling of a transient space, a waiting room, like an oversized version of the ticket pulled at the pharmacy queue. The seats seem occupied, or certainly not in a state to be sat on. The red elastic cord and plastic sheet are reminiscent of the hastily blocked off park benches and playground equipment during the early days of lockdown in 2020. The usual invitation to take a rest has been withdrawn.

Reus’ work has been described as a “dirty realism”, creating work that looks clean and precise whilst alluding to the excesses of consumerism (the Approach, 2014).

 

01.02.2021

Paula Rego
Scarecrow And The Pig, 2005
pastel on board
180 x 120 cm

Paula Rego is best known for her paintings in pastel that have a strong storytelling element and explore human relationships, often through animal characters. Her figures are realistically depicted, yet they are mostly imaginary or inspired by literature and art history. References range from Old Masters and Surrealists to Peter Pan, Aesop’s fables, Portuguese folklore and feminist texts, such as Simone de Beauviour’s seminal book ‘the Second Sex’, which looks at the treatment of women throughout history.

Scarecrow And The Pig is based on a tale of a pig that rescues a scarecrow from a fire. When the farmer wants to slaughter the pig, the scarecrow does nothing to help rescue the pig. Rego’s scarecrow is the character in the green dress on a cross. The moral of the story is retold by a ladybird, looking like a grim reaper in the foreground inspecting the pig’s head. This character explains the need to forgive the scarecrow due to it being inanimate, a point perhaps underlined by her use of an animal skull as the scarecrow’s head.

Violent yet whimsical, Scarecrow And The Pig is an example of Rego’s preferred themes of power games and hierarchies in the stories she represents. Her own story within this is important too. She says her work is “personal, but not completely personal. It’s political, too, and funny—taking the piss.” (MAP Magazine, 2005). Whilst there are autobiographical elements in many of her works, she views these readings as too often bestowed on female artists over their male counterparts, instead viewing her practice as a means to transmit a feminine experience via a historically masculine medium.

 

27.01.2021
S18 volumes of hand-made leather-bound books stacked on top of each other as a tower, embossed in gold lettering with a total of 12,775 pages, 1 eggs on top propping the top cover open. 140 x 32 x 22 cm

Simon Fujiwara
The Unwritten Erotic Saga of the Fujiwara Family (1st Edition), 2010
18 volumes of hand-made leather-bound books, embossed in gold lettering with a total of 12,775 pages, 2 eggs, 2 photographs (one of Fujiwara’s father and one of the Hotel Munber).
140 x 32 x 22 cm

Appromixately the height of the artists’ father, this stack of leather-bound books is part family portrait, part tale of post-Franco era Spain, part fiction. Each page has a date printed on it, the first being 20 November 1975 – the day of the dictator’s death and as a direct consequence also the day Spain lifted a ban on erotica. Fujiwara’s parents were running Hotel Munber in the Costa Brava during the final years of the dictatorship. This Saga could be seen as a monument to Fujiwara’s struggle in the period spanning 2006 – 2010 to complete an erotic novel with his father as the main protagonist, set in the hotel.

Attempting to finish writing this fiction Simon Fujiwara travelled to Mexico. Instead of completing the book he produced this work, with the final date being 20 November 2010. This is exactly 100 years after the start of the 1910 Mexican Revolution and just shy of the 200-years from when Mexico gained its independence Spain.

The cover of Volume 18 is propped open so that the date can be read. It is held up by an egg, visible as nod to the rumour that Franco was missing one testicle. Inside Volume 4 (1981 – 1983) sits a secret egg that coincides with the year the artist was born. The egg and other artifacts are like objects in a treasure hunt, a scattering of ‘evidence’ that pop up in various works, together weaving narratives of shared human pasts, autobiographical elements, ethnology, and eroticism. In doing so Fujiwara plays with soft contrasts; using fiction to hold up a mirror to reality and foregrounding sexuality as both a battleground and space of escapism.

 

20.01.2021

Flora Yukhnovich
Thank Heaven for Little Girls, 2018-19
oil on linen
220 × 190cm

Flora Yukhnovich’s paintings explore the aesthetics of femininity throughout art history. Whilst originally trained in portraiture and drawing from life, she has moved to much more abstract works where figuration – legs, a face, or in this case, a tree – can be spotted amongst the decorative curving lines and pastel palette, which are inspired by Rococo painters. She equally names Abstract Expressionism as an influence, especially in terms of being able to see the movement of the artist behind the paint. The pinks and copper tones in particular have been applied in thick scrapes and strokes of oil paint, that make her gestures easily readable.

At over 2m in height and almost the same in length Thank Heaven for Little Girls is certainly not a little canvas. Speaking to art historian Katy Hessel about the scale of her work Yuknovich says “I like painting really big, because it feels like a challenge, and your whole body is engaged – you feel a sense of adrenaline at having to conquer this massive thing that is there looming over you.”

Rococo is typically thought of as capturing some historical idea of ‘femininity’ – decorative, whimsical and at times quite opulent – whilst Abstract Expressionism can be viewed as rather macho – big, rebellious, applied by ‘action painting’. Yukhnovich takes these factors on. She is reclaiming them from a female perspective, adding a contemporary twist as with her tongue-in-cheek titling, by means to explore how women are positioned in today’s image-saturated culture.

 

11.01.2021


Sterling Ruby
Monument Stalagmite/P.T.A.C., 2012
PVC pipe, foam, urethane, wood, spray paint and formica unique
494.7 x 99.1 x 160 cm

This almost 5-metre-high Monument is part of a series of similarly shaped sculptures, all made from a base structure of PVC pipes. These are attached to the artist’s studio ceiling and for multiple months layer after layer of urethane resin is poured over them to form this glossy shape. The slow process and resulting shape evoke the geological formation of stalactites, dripping down to a point from the roof of a cave. Once complete Ruby flips the whole structure over, turning the stalactite into the much more phallic stalagmite, before placing it on a pedestal, propped up with aid of a wooden buttress.

It is a characteristic Ruby takes head on, since he is interested in interrogating or deconstructing notions of American identity politics and macho culture. The wooden structure that supports his monument have each been inscribed with an acronym. This one reads P.T.A.C, meaning “party to a crime”. It is a term used by the American police and justice system to indicate an accomplice. This ‘monument’ thereby becomes rather desolate, it stands like a tower to a dissonant American Dream – one that champions individual freedom within a system of mass incarceration.

 

04.01.2021

 Donna Huanca
FIBULA, 2018
oil and sand on digital print on canvas
160 x 124 cm

The fibula is the smaller of two bones running between the knee and the ankle. It is not a weight-bearing bone, instead the function of the fibula is to connect muscles together. The word is Latin, meaning brooch or clasp, and it is when turning that into a verb – ‘to clasp’ – that the word perhaps becomes closest to Huanca’s FIBULA.

Below the layers of paint, pigment and sand in her signature shades of blue sits a digital print. Huanca has used close up photographs of the skin of performers, documented as they inhabit her installations as painted sculptures and transposed them onto canvas. She regards skin ‘as a universal tissue that bonds all humans’ (CURA. 2018). The importance she places on this material can be seen by her painting directly onto skin and incorporating bodily presence and senses like sound, smell and touch in her work. By including the digital print Huanca also makes her canvasses function like an extension of the skin. The paint is ‘clasping’ onto the presence of a body, as it also carries forward information from a previous live performance. The ephemeral experience is preserved by the brushstrokes like muscle memory.

 

21.12.2020


Maha Ahmed

A beast with its stomach stretched full 1
, 2017
gouache on paper
15.2 x 10.2 cm

Maha Ahmed makes work informed by her knowledge of various traditional forms of image making. Here she combines elements from Persian miniature painting and classical Japanese ‘Yamato-e’ painting, in a series of mythical scenes that conjure up both isolation and wonderment.

Yamato-e simply translates as ‘Japanese painting’ and refers to a style that first flourished between 794 – 1185 (the Heian period). It came about to distinguish paintings with a Japanese subject matter from those imported from China. The paintings are narrative based, with or without accompanying text and often feature large clouds or mist banks that fill all negative space.

Miniature painting on paper became a significant genre in Persian art from the 13th century onwards. Animals, mostly shown sideways, have always been a common feature. Ahmed’s mythical creatures are also all depicted in profile. They find themselves in vast cloudy landscapes, almost disappearing into their surroundings as if they want to become a part of it. Though perhaps, as the title of the works might suggest, they have actually consumed their environment and are surveying this hybrid world with happy bellies.

 

14.12.2020

a creme ceramic textured mask-like structure hangs on a wall. The lower right hand side has a soft pink and black ball attached to it.


Caroline Achaintre

She-Balls, 2011
Ceramic, leather
29 x 20 x 8cm

Originally trained as a blacksmith before coming to London in the late 90s to study art, Caroline Achaintre’s works often reference craft traditions, be it by hand tufting wool, basket weaving or working with clay and ceramics. Whilst she creates abstract forms, the final pieces have a strong sense of personality and bodily presence, often with carnivalesque and playful tones.

She-Balls is no exception. The pattern that forms the base is reminiscent of an animal skin – particularly the crosshatching found on snakes, lizards or armadillos (‘little armoured one’ in Spanish). This idea of protecting what lies beneath continues when reading the ceramic form as a mask-like shape. The mask has the potential to conceal emotions that lie beneath, present a false pretence, or in this case perhaps even fetishize the wearer.

 

07.12.2020

White neon letters on a black background read 'Sunday to Thursday, 10_00 - 18_00, Friday and Saturday, 10_00 - 22_00 Closed, 24, 25, 26 December (open as normal on 1 January)'


Jonathan Monk

Museum Opening Hours, 2006
neon sign on perspex base
59 x 300 cm

In the last week many museums and galleries have been able to reopen their doors post lockdown, whilst many minds are thinking ahead to the festive period. Museum Opening Hours plays to this time perfectly, despite being made in a moment where public institutions would be open pretty much all year round, bar those couple of Christmas closure days.

This work by Jonathan Monk often is about looking back to reimagine what lies ahead. Monk often references or appropriates works and strategies from conceptual artists such as Bruce Nauman, Sol Lewitt, or in this case perhaps Joseph Kosuth, which he imbues with personal experience and a dose of humour. Whilst in part an homage to conceptual art, it is also an attempt demystify ideas of originality, purity and authority. The fact he has chosen to render museum opening hours in this neon sculpture becomes more meaningful when considering these words, which are so often associated with artworks once they are displayed within museum walls.

 

30.11.2020


Theaster Gates

A Roof for the Middle Class, 2012
wood, roofing paper, tar and paper
246.5 x 245 cm

Many of Theaster Gates’ best-known projects are tied into his commitment to his neighbourhood, the South Side of Chicago. An area in which he has been focussing on regeneration and social transformation through an art practice that also encompasses sculpture, performance and archives. He is interested in spaces that have been left behind, and contending with what he terms Black space “defined by collective desire, artistic agency, and the tactics of a pragmatist” (About – theastergates.com). This has particular weight in the South Side, still a relatively low-income area grappling with a long history of politicised and structural oppression of minorities.

In the last 15 years he has regenerated almost 40 buildings in the area, turning them into community provisions, artist studios or low-cost housing. But Gates has famously stated “I don’t want to just buy a building, I want to make a building” (Jonathan Griffin, Apollo Magazine interview, 2017). Having studied pottery in Japan and urban planning in Chicago earlier in his life, Gates manages all stages of the manufacturing process including making his own bricks.

A Roof for the Middle Class ties a lot of these strands together. The abstract expressionist black surface is made from tar, crafted in a collaborative process with his father, who is a retired roofer. With that knowledge the title could point to a means to an end; working to support a family. Gates often makes art from salvaged materials from his derelict buildings, with the sale of those pieces going back into refurbishing, taking it full circle by literally putting roofs over heads. But it goes further; concealed by the tar is ‘The Black Middle Class’ issue of Ebony magazine from 1973, that analysed aspirations of social mobility for Black communities in America, solidifying the convergence of race and class that is prevalent in so many of his works.

 

23.11.2020


Loie Hollowell

Squeezed Cheeks, 2019
Oil paint, acrylic medium, sawdust, high density foam on linen over panel
71.1 x 53.3 x 5.4 cm

“One opening leads to another”. That was the suggestive name of Loie Hollowell’s 2019 solo exhibition at GRIMM Gallery in Amsterdam, where this painting was first shown. Put together with the term Squeezed Cheeks, the references to bodies and sexuality becomes immediately visible, despite the abstract nature of Hollowell’s paintings. Through this abstraction, she creates somewhat hypnotic shapes with a nod to the style of Georgia O’Keeffe, imbuing her works with a similar air of femininity and spirituality.

Squeezed Cheeks is part of a series of paintings that draw from her experience of giving birth, touching on the emotional and psychological metamorphosis during pregnancy and labour. She describes her work as abstracted self-portraits, relating to her own body and personal experiences.

Her work of this period is characterized by a geometric strictness in the composition, but great complexity in texture, depth and gradient. Hollowell achieves this by adding miniature brush strokes on top of the panel, which protrudes from the wall due to a layer of foam. Working with colour and light, it looks like the two disc shapes / (bum) cheeks are indeed squeezed in towards the midline, whilst the linen and sawdust seem to subtly allude to veins, pores and hairs.

 

16.11.2020

A photo of a photo real wallpaper depicting an Alpine landscape with snow topped mountains in the back and a blue lake in front

Yto Barrada
Wallpaper – Tangier, 2001
colour c-print mounted on aluminium with no frame
60 x 60 cm

At first glance this looks like an image of an idyllic Alpine landscape in the sun, still some snowy caps on the mountaintops, and a cluster of pine trees surrounding a glistening and inviting lake. Looking closer the seam down the middle and peeling paper reveals this is in fact a photograph of a photo-wallpaper mural depicting this scene in 2D-print. Barrada took this image of the interior of a café in Tangier, hence the title of the work. As such, there are multiple levels of displacement here; the mountains are moved to the urban streets of Morocco and Barrada adds to that by bringing it into an art context.

Wallpaper – Tangier is part of a larger project by Yto Barrada into the identity of post-colonial Morocco and the importance of the Strait of Gibraltar in particular, mainly looking at tourist posters, interiors and advertising imagery. This bit of water has long been a gateway between Europe and Africa and a site of fraught colonial, economic and geopolitical negotiations.

About this Barrada writes: “Before 1991 any Moroccan with a passport could travel freely to Europe. But since the European Union’s (EU) Schengen Agreement, visiting rights have become unilateral across what is now legally a one-way strait. A generation of Moroccans has grown up facing this troubled space that manages to be at once physical, symbolic, historical and intimately personal” (A Life Full of Holes – The Strait Project, 2005, p. 57, qtd from DRAF Study #7). She has long been fascinated with these border politics, being born in Paris but growing up in Tangier and being surrounded by images like this wallpaper that idealised the West and sold a dream of mobility that was no longer available to most.

 

09.11.2020


Katinka Bock 

Raus I and Raus II [pictured],2006
Both super 8 transferred to HD video, black and white, no sound
0’24” and  0’32” 

Katinka Bock’s twin videos are somewhat ominous and mischievous; in Raus I mist is seeping across what could be a snow-covered field, when suddenly something shatters across the field of vision. Similarly, in Raus II a house or barn is depicted in an eerie calm, until in a burst of chaos the glass jumps out of all the windows and the two doors wobble in their hinges. 

These video works stand in dialogue with how Bock has described her installations, which are intended to “define a space and often seem to wrestle against the claustrophobia of the exhibition spaces; tending to open doors, windows, walls, holes by which to escape, or to let in rain or air”. This direct challenging of the space can be taken literally in Raus II, but together with Raus I it becomes more poetic musing on humans tendency to sculpt and control the landscape.

 

02.11.2020

A sculpture on a pedestal, made from the bottom half of a marble torso and top half of a wooden Madonna and child above
Danh Vo
Shove it up your ass, you faggot!, 2015
Oak and polychrome Madonna and child, French early Gothic 1280-1320; marble torso of Apollo, Roman workshop, 1st-2nd century AD; steel
154.2 x 50 x 50 cm 

The title for this sculptural collage comes from William Friedkin’s seminal horror film The Exorcist (1973). It is a line spoken by the Demon to a priest whilst the evil entity is possessing a young girl. After Danh Vo’s family left Vietnam as refugees and settled in Denmark when he was just four years old, his Catholic mother developed a tendency to watch horror films. Not wanting to endure the suspense alone, it became a family activity to sit around the television to watch these films together. Vo first saw The Exorcist aged seven, so it is perhaps unsurprising that it left a lasting impression on him. 

There are two more of these sculptures which use the same chopped-up early Gothic oak Madonna and child figurine fused together with chopped-up marble body parts. Their titles, Your mother sucks cocks in hell (2015) and Dimmy, why you do this to me? (2015) are also lines taken from The Exorcist. One of the self-confessed reasons Vo uses these quotes is taking secret juvenile delight at the idea that art professionals would have to repeat these phrases to prospective buyers (Frieze magazine issue 171). On a more serious note, all three works show how conflicting interests can be present in the same person; there are mis-matched body parts made of different materials from disparate eras, put together as one. Similarly, the possessed girl in the film becomes a conduit for both evil and truth. These ideas speak to more personal experiences too; Vo’s Catholic upbringing, sexual identity and close relationship with his family. Vo’s dad is in fact the calligrapher for his work and has agreed to keep reproducing until his death.  

 

26.10.2020

Ellen Gallagher DeLuxe, 2004-5


Ellen Gallagher

DeLuxe, 2004-5
mixed media
Photogravure, etching, aquatint, dry-point, lithography, screenprint, embossing, tattoo-machine engraving, laser cutting, chine collé, Plasticine, paper collage, enamel, gouache, pencil, oil, polymer, watercolour, pomade, velvet, glitter, crystals, gold leaf and toy eyeballs in a grid of sixty prints.
Each: 33 x 26.67 cm, to be hung 5 high by 12 across. Overall 215 x 447 cm.

It took well over a year for Ellen Gallagher to complete DeLuxe, an ambitious portfolio of sixty prints created using a wide array of print making techniques. The images are based on advertisements promoting cosmetic ‘improvements’ found in otherwise rather radical Black or African American magazines such as Ebony, Our World and Sepia, published between 1939 and 1972. The adverts were largely promoting products that fit the white archetypes of beauty; hair straighteners, wigs, even skin whitening cream. Gallagher modified and transformed the images, cutting the wigs out, drawing on or otherwise transforming them with collage. These final collages she then often turned into photogravures.

Photogravure is known for creating incredibly flat and ‘seamless’ images, which Gallagher then went on to retexture. For example, by including Plasticine wigs and masks or with the addition of rhinestones, glitter, coconut oil, pomade or gold leaf. Her additions are meant to give an idea of mutability or shifts, alluding to animation, but also showing how penmanship is not fixed in history.

DeLuxe and Gallagher’s wider body of work, especially around this time, confronts the history of black representation. Using historical and vernacular imagery she explores how the historic seeds of representation still have an impact on the lived condition of blackness in America today. DeLuxe in particular focusses on the complex role hair plays in black culture. Through this the printmaking techniques and concept align, as texture is a central to both Gallagher’s prints and the distinction between Afro or European hair types.

 

19.10.2020


Rosemarie Trockel

Oh Mystery Girl 3, 2006
mixed media
67.5 x 57 x 3.8 cm

From a distance the composition of Rosemarie Trockel’s collage Oh Mystery Girl 3 could be read as a vanity mirror, with the two flesh-coloured pink ears like pressed blusher powder or a make-up sponge applicator resting on the side of two reflective silver discs. Look more closely and the dish-like shapes reveal two blurred, distorted skulls.

When Matthew McLean wrote about the work for DRAF in 2016 he noted that the phrase ‘oh mystery girl’ sounded like a lyric, so set about finding out from which song it would have originated from. “The best result I can find is a question posted on a forum: ‘Mystery girl (what is the name of this song?)’. A commenter responds that the song in question is in fact Promiscuous Girl (2006) by the singer Nelly Furtado”.

Vanity, death, mystery and promiscuity. All of these are themes that can be read into Trockel’s wider body of work, with her art addressing feminisms and identity, sexuality, and the human body. Since the early 1970s, she has produced an impressive body of work that includes drawing, collage, installation, ‘knit paintings’, ceramics, video, furniture, clothing, and books. In this collage, the distorted and pasted together imagery may mean that the body of the mysterious ‘girl’ Trockel is alluding is absent, but the female presence is very much felt.

 

12.10.2020


Charles Avery

Untitled (Place de la Revolution), 2011
pencil, ink and acrylic on paper
240 x 416 cm

Untitled (Place de la Revolution) is a large drawing, over 4 meters in length, chronicling the activity on a busy square. Cyclists converge before peddling off along their own routes, kids are playing and there is a shopping centre in the background (slide for details). The drawing forms part of a singular world-building project that Charles Avery has been developing since 2004, through depictions of an imaginary island. ‘The Islanders’ charts the formation of Avery’s fiction through drawings like this one, sculptures, texts, ephemera and occasionally 16mm animations, as well as live interventions into our own world. In 2017 for Art Night Avery showed objects and characters from his fictional Island across east London including sculptures, performers, a flyposting campaign and the transformation of a café in St Katherine Docks into a landmark from the Island.

Avery is also the selector of our current On Screen Special: Beer by Erik van Lieshout. This programme invites artists that feature in the David Roberts Collection to select and introduce a moving image work from a peer they admire. Explaining his choice Avery writes “Erik’s strategy when making a film is generally to embed himself in a place, situation or community and, with great economy of means, use anything that happens to come his way, material or mental, to weave a story.” This points to Avery’s interest in van Lieshout’s work being grounded in similar methods of constructing narratives.

 

5.10.2020


Philip Guston

Drive, 1969
oil on panel
signed (on the reverse)
67.3 x 61 cm

One of Guston’s earliest figurative works in the bold cartoonish style he become known for, ‘Drive’ is also an early introduction to a figure of evil that he would paint often in his career – the white hooded Klansman. With these paintings Guston sought to take on the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacy and incite the question “What it would be like to be evil?”.

The title ‘Drive’ points to the car, represented as a brown murky mound that the white hooded figure sticks out of like a snow topped peak, emerging from the mud with pink fleshy hands in thick oil paint. Perhaps though it also calls into question Guston’s motif and thinking at the time. What drove him to depict evil and eternalise such a violent character time and again?

Painted against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and social and political violence in America, Guston’s Ku Klux Klan paintings are regarded as his attempt to tell the story of a country that had “run afoul of its democratic promise”, and hold a mirror up to fellow white Americans, including himself, about systemic racism.

As Craig Burnett, author of ‘Philip Guston: The Studio’ (2014/2020), wrote in a Study of the work for DRAF “What makes Drive a remarkable painting is how rough and personal it is: it’s a mumbled prayer, damp and heartfelt. In this little icon, Guston imagined himself emerging from the earth – half monster, half artist – and plotting a course for the rest of his life.”

 

21.09.2020

Bruce McLean, Pose Piece for Three Plinths Work, 1971

 

Bruce McLean
Pose Piece for Three Plinths Work, 1971
fifteen photographs, mounted on card
one signed and dated (on the reverse)
each photograph: 10 x 15.5 cm

Pose Piece for Three Plinths Work started life in 1971 as a performance that hardly anybody saw and was made almost by accident.

At the time, McLean had a solo exhibition at Situation, a gallery in London, where he changed the content of the show almost daily. When the exhibition first opened he used 40-odd plinths, all borrowed from Tate. After these were returned, three plinths were left behind.  McLean then “just got onto the plinths and thought to make a work for the plinths. Someone has (sic) taken photographs of me doing this” (McLean quoted in DRAF Study #3., 2013)

So whilst these photographs were originally made as documentation of an event, they became a work in their own right when McLean decided to put all 15 of them on the wall as part of the same evolving exhibition at Situation.

Featured in the most recent edition of Scottish Art News, David Roberts names this work a standout piece in his collection. Pose Piece speaks to the history of performance alongside an interplay between an object-based collection and live events which DRAF’s programming also explores.

 

14.09.2020

Abstract red and blue painting


Rita Ackermann

Fire by Days VI, 2011
oil and spray paint on linen
233.7 x 167.6 cm

Fire by Days (2011) is a series of 44 paintings and works on paper which began as an accidental spill of paint on Ackermann’s studio floor. She mopped up the spill using a Hungarian fire safety poster. Of the forms and shapes that the wipes left Ackermann said “hastily cleaning up a mess of paint on a surface suggested something that wasn’t a figure or a face, but rather both, or abstract” (quoted from Hauser and Wirth, ‘Fire By Days’ exhibition text). The series title is inspired by a line in French poet Roger Gilbert-Lecomte’s ‘Vacancy in Glass’ [extract]:

To a palace made
Of wind
To a palace whose towers
Are pillars of fire by day

Roger Gilbert-Lecomte (1907 – 1943)
In Black Mirror: The Selected Poems of Roger Gilbert-Lecomte

Born in Hungary in 1968, Ackermann came to New York City to study painting in the mid 90s and has been based there ever since. Her gestural and abstracted paintings are marked by a fascination with American cultural archetypes; socialites, cowboys, car crashes and erotic symbols have all found their way woven into her paintings. As suggested by her quote about semi-figurative shapes, her work is often classed within the Abstract Expressionist movement. Her works are full of movement, making it easy to trace the gesture of her hand in painting.

 

07.09.2020

Plug socket sculpture made from marble


Tatsuya Kimata

Double, 2006
white marble and metal screws
14.6 x 8.5 x 1.4cm

Tatsuya Kimata’s Double is aptly named, not just because of the two sockets, but because you may need to do a double take when spotting this discrete work installed. Masquerading as the familiar plastic plug socket, this intricately made sculpture has been carved from pure white marble.

Kimata transforms everyday objects, common ‘white goods’ found around the house including socks and cups into beautiful marble artworks, finding baroque opulence in what might otherwise be seen as mundane objects.

To double, or to be a stand-in, is usually an act of blending into the surrounding environment unnoticed. The dimensions of this artwork are therefore the exact same as a standard plug, so it can be installed on the wall unassumingly.

 

27.08.2020

Ida Applebroog
Independence Plaza, 1979-80
ink and rhoplex on vellum, in two parts
each: 220 x 160 cm

The two images that together form Independence Plaza (1979-80) are an early example of American artist Ida Applebroog’s window pieces. These comic-like works show voyeuristic domestic dramas, visible behind half-drawn blinds. The scenes have been used by Applebroog to make sharp social commentary on life in New York City in the Seventies and Eighties, particularly in relation to gender, sexuality and power.

Independence Plaza is made on vellum, a type of parchment made from calfskin. The material has a translucency which is extra apparent if light shines through the big white blinds that dominate the scenes. When the works were first exhibited in New York in 1980 they were installed in the window frames of the gallery, with the interior relationships spilling out on to the street.

Applebroog has compared drawing to the ease of making instant coffee, but this supposed effortless is matched by great technical skill and an ability to challenge the status quo. Over the years it has made her a big player in the feminist art movement, who has not shied away from discussions around mental health