Where the line runs: Filter 4 opens its new season with a drawing exhibition

by Annette Hoffmann

 Basel. Jean Paul describes autobiographical writing with the term “Selbsterlebungsbeschreibung”, believing that experience and description are congruent. Similarly, in his artwork ‘Trace’ Bálint Bolygó has created an artwork that combines production with reflection.

‘Trace’ is a drawing machine. On a paper roll stands a plaster-cast of a human head, the surface of which is traced by a wheel, so that the proportions are transferred through a fine pen onto the paper. Bolygó delegates the drawing process to his self-made machine and in doing so, clearly demonstrates what drawing means: an object translated into a line. 

On the one hand, his machine has a somewhat old-fashioned appearance, and this is intentional. On the other hand, the drawing has the appearance of a contemporary 3D print with parallel lines in a landscape format. Although the making process is completely analogical, the patterns drawn create the perception of a virtual reality.

 As if in wonderland

 The exhibition is playfully entitled “Searching the Line” and opens the 2017 season of Filter 4 Culture Affairs on Saturday. The group show spreads over both spaces, filled with sand, of the old water reservoir on the Bruderholz in Basel.

 The exhibition is organised by the London-based artist group Drawing Connections. Although their ages range over twenty years, from the mid-30s to mid-50s, most members have completed their Master’s degree in 2012 at Wimbledon College of Art, London.

Even though they have only recently graduated, it is clear that these artists are striving to find formal solutions and answers through their artworks. Although most live in London, there are connections to Basel through Darragh Gallagher and Angelika Steiger who have both forged a relationship with Freddy Hadorn. “Connections” refers not only to the lines that connect two points, but also to the physical collaborations between the artists that have been developed in group meetings. These specific collaborations were formed for this exhibition. Angelika Steiger and Bálint Bolygó have created kinetic book-projects including “Bookworm”, an object that reminds the viewer of a mechanised caterpillar incising circles deeper and deeper into the sand. Exhibitions at Filter 4 often open the door to a wonderland.

Every artist defines the idea of the line differently. They are explored in the found-footage videoworks of Chris Cawkwell as well as in the encaustic drawings of Deb Whitney. One is led into the space by the printed PVC banners of Angelika Steiger, which are hung from heavy metal chains and make reference to the Basel silk ribbon industry.

Filter 4 demands strong works that are not easily overwhelmed by the architecture of the space. Therefore, although at first glance the exhibition may not seem spontaneous, the art is defined but not overworked.

A reflection of reality

Darragh Gallagher, born in 1972 in Belfast, has created miniature paper trees and arranged them in a sand-landscape. On each is printed an extract from an Australian environmental scientist who researches democracy and climate change, and who has coined the phrase “Democracy needs more trees and less Trump”. Gallagher’s installation, entitled “Forest Trump”, which puns on the film “Forrest Gump”, projects this sentence, among others, on the opposite wall.

Paul Ridyard has developed a drawing technique on full-sized sheets of paper which is almost photorealistic. The viewer is invited into the undergrowth and an impenetrable wilderness tantalises the eye. With graphite pencil Ridyard imitates the processes of organic growth. Through the angled presentation of his drawings, he guides the viewer towards an imaginary destination. And here it is: drawing as a simulacrum of reality.