Peder Lund is delighted to present an exhibition of drawings by one of the great artists of our time, Richard Serra (1938- ). Serra’s large-scale steel sculptures have made him a crucial figure in contemporary art. At the same time, the artist has had a parallel, fully autonomous drawing practice; equally process oriented as the sculptures, but based on its own established criteria. By creating tension within the conventions of drawing and pushing the parameters of the language used to understand the practice, Serra has significantly contributed to shaping the field of drawing after modernism by using new techniques, monumental scale and by meticu- lously creating relationships with the drawings’ surrounding space. The exhibition Richard Serra – Drawings at Peder Lund features nine works, spanning 32 years of Serra’s artistic production, bringing together key work series that demonstrate the ever-evolving ideas and methods in the artist’s practice.
Serra has always drawn: he was accepted to the painting department at Yale University School of Art and Architecture based on twelve contour drawings (1964-65), and while on a postgraduate travel fellowship in Paris, he sketched daily at Constantin Brancusi’s studio, recreated in Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville. Settling in New York City in 1966, he worked to get away from anecdotal drawing, and drawing that was representational of his sculptures, focusing instead on the nature of space. A major breakthrough occurred in 1974, when the artist began making wall-size abstractions titled Installation Drawings. These works dealt with the delineation of architecture, and the definition of a space within architecture that was different than the intended architectural space itself. From this point on, with the aid of his drawings, Serra began to define experienced space in relation to contained architectural space.
Drawing to Serra is a matter of mark-making; to make a mark on a piece of paper and extend and redefine what that problem can be. He is not concerned with subjective gestures or narrative references, and his intention is not to create an emotional response in the viewer. Instead, Serra redraws the space and place the viewer is in, as succinctly as he can, with the simplest means possible.
Serra’s drawings are characterised by the density of the material and the compact work process. He uses black paintstick – an oil- based crayon – to build stark, tightly layered forms. Warming or melting the material, he applies the paintstick either directly onto the paper with large sweeps of his arm, or he uses a window screen as an intermediary surface through which he presses the pigment. In recent drawings, such as the Solids series (2007-08), of which Solid #23 is on view (2008), the melted paintstick is poured onto a hard surface on the floor. Sometimes a sheet of window screen is placed on top of the liquid paintstick and then the paper is laid on top of the pigment. The paintstick is transferred to the sheet by pressing a hard marking tool onto the back of the paper. The resulting forms impact the viewer’s sense of mass and gravity, making for an experience that is equally spatial, tactile, and visual, by drawing attention to the viewer's own corporeality.
On view at Peder Lund is the monumental work Blanchot (2009) from the series Greenpoint Rounds, featuring big, black circles on the surface of heavy paper. Each work in the series was given the name of a writer: Blanchot is derived from the French writer, philosopher, and literary theorist Maurice Blanchot (1907-2003), who influenced the post-structuralist philosophers. The work evokes Serra’s infamous series Rounds (1996-97) and out-of-rounds (1999-2000). Also on view will be work from the recent series Ramble Drawings, a mixture of Litho crayon, black pastel and powder applied to handmade paper, as well as three earlier drawings, all carefully selected by the artist.