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Exhibition of Contemporary Drawing at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

An exhibition of some 250 works on paper by more than 80 leading international artists opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Friday 25 July 2008. Order. Desire. Light. An Exhibition of Contemporary Drawing brings together works by such celebrated artists as Francis Alÿs, Louise Bourgeois, Dorothy Cross, Tracey Emin, William Kentridge, Martin Kippenberger, Gerhard Richter, Luc Tuymans and Lawrence Weiner, demonstrating the renewed importance which drawing has assumed in contemporary art over the past decade. All the works come from the private collection of the Spanish collector Mercedes Vilardell, which she assembled over the past few years in parallel with the increased interest in the medium.

The exhibition presents many different approaches to the art of drawing, from the expressive to the conceptual, focusing especially on its experimental nature. It also highlights what its curator Enrique Juncosa, Director of IMMA and himself a published poet, sees as the close relationship between drawing and poetry. A wide variety of techniques are represented, from line drawing to collage, embroidery and text. Some are created with conventional tools, such as pencil, ink or watercolour, while other employ more unusual materials, including foodstuffs and bodily fluids.

The Vilardell Collection comprises works by artists from a wide span of generations, from Antoni Tápies, Louise Bourgeois and Sigmar Polke to others who are still relatively unknown and, in a few cases, anonymous. Although particularly rich in works by Brazilian, Mexican and Spanish artists, it is truly international, encompassing artists from, for example, Cuba, Pakistan, Turkey and Japan. In the last couple of years Vilardell has also begun collecting works by Irish artists, among them Dorothy Cross, David Godbold, William McKeown, Isabel Nolan, Kathy Prendergast and Tom Molloy.

Writing in the catalogue for the exhibition, independent curator Paolo Colombo points to three artists as representing the heart of the collection as well as the exhibition. In his series of watercolours studies for embroideries, Italian artist Alighiero Boetti gives symmetric shape to chaos in his neat, perfectly square works based on verbal puns. One study Ordine e Disordine (Order and Disorder), c 1988, echoes the theories of order and chaos of Rudolph Arnheim, popular in the late 1960s and 1970s when Boetti was developing his work. The Mexican artist Francis Alÿs transforms apparently simple images into surprisingly powerful archetypes in works such as Untitled, 2001, depicting a man walking with his right index finger raised. In this and other works, Alÿs demonstrates an ability to interact with the mind of the viewer, suggesting a complexity hidden in simplicity. In their use of a visual language based on analogies and metaphors, Colombo sees both artists as epitomising one of the strongest underlying themes of the collection. The collection has an equally large holding of works by Arturo Herrera, a Venezuelan artist resident in Berlin, who, again, employs allusion in imagery often culled from the Disney animations. In the 1999 Untitled series of 10 drawings, for example, he meticulously edits and positions these images, creating an organic series of drawings in a tight cinematic manner.

Commenting on the exhibition, Enrique Juncosa said: “In selecting this exhibition it became strikingly clear that, despite the long history of drawing, even the most traditional of these works are absolutely contemporary, be it in the choice of medium, theme or underlying influences which led to its creation.”

Gallery Talk
On Thursday 24 July at 5.00pm Paolo Colombo will give a tour of the exhibition and discuss the scope of the Vilardell Collection. Admission is free but booking is essential on tel: + 353 1 612 9948 or email: [email protected].

A fully-illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition with texts by Paolo Colombo, former Curator at the MAXXI-Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo, Rome; Catherine Lampert, former Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, and Enrique Juncosa.

Order. Desire. Light. An Exhibition of Contemporary Drawing continues until 19 October 2008.

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Saturday 10.00am-5.30pm
except Wednesday 10.30am-5.30pm
Sundays and Bank Holidays 12 noon-5.30pm
Late Opening from 5 June to 18 September on Thursday evenings until 8.00pm
Monday Closed

For further information and images please contact Monica Cullinane or Patrice Molloy at Tel : +353 1 612 9900, Email : [email protected]

16 July 2008

Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June.  A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. While we prepare to open our next exhibition Hilary Heron: A Retrospective on 24 May, there are two exhibitions to see Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s gardens and café are open to the public.