In, On & Of Paper
January 18 – March 9, 2019
In this exhibition, Bentley Gallery features 22 artists who recalibrate the limits of the traditional paper surface, breaking boundaries and challenging preconceived notions of materiality. They explore form, sustainability, language, gender, architecture, spirituality, psychology, fashion, genealogy, and modernity.
Paper, as a viable surface, whether it be for writing, calligraphy or drawing, came into being in China during the Eastern Han Period (25 – 220 CE) with the advent of woven plant fibers, later refined in the 13th Century with paper manufacturing utilizing watermills, only to be fully realized in the 19th Century with the invention of the wood-based papers that we use today.
Paper as a drawing surface was traditionally used as the first step in the preparation of a work of art in another medium. i.e. painting, yet drawing as a singular expressive technique in and of itself gained significance in the early part of the 20th Century. In terms of contemporary art practice, works made on paper have the advantage of immediacy and fluidity of line and form, while also suggesting a more informal gesture and the impulse toward broader improvisation and experimentation.
Paper has contained within it both the advantages and challenges of being a mutable surface, a less rigid and predictable substrate, allowing for greater exploration and variation within the larger work as a whole, thus allowing for a greater sense of whimsy, freedom, and improvisation in the initial creative process.