Hemali Bhuta Stepping Down, 2010
Dimension: Variable, wax sticks of various lengths and cotton threads.
Copyright the artist and Project 88

The exhibition Lines of  Thought features Helene Appel, James Bishop, Hemali Bhuta, Raoul De Keyser, Adrian Esparza, Özlem Günyol & Mustafa Kunt, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Jorge Macchi, Nasreen Mohamedi, Fred Sandback, Conrad Shawcross, Anne Truitt and Richard Tuttle.

What strikes you more than anything when you look at Lines of Thought is the way each of the 15 contemporary artists have interpreted the practice of using line in creatively challenging ways. With works spanning different generations, it is interesting to notice how the meaning and use of line varies so much from one artist to another.

Despite being deceptively simple, line is paradoxically one of the most powerful means of expression. Continuous or broken, curved or straight, free-floating or geometric, lines can define boundaries, divide spaces, create light and shade and of course be used as a means of communication. Throughout the history of art, line has been used by many artists to explore and express a wealth of feelings, thoughts and ideas.

Combining European and American traditions of post-war art, James Bishop’s poetic and reductionist geometry abandons the hard-edge abstraction of many of his contemporaries. Raoul De Keyser’s ambiguous, gestural minimalism seems not only to merge various contradictory elements – figuration and abstraction, gesture and geometry – but also to inspire long contemplation of it. Being of the same generation as Bishop and De Keyser, Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi’s sparse work remains surprisingly under-recognised in the west. Her work is characterised by a total and coherent commitment to the language of abstraction, while her austere drawings evoke an atmospheric and delicate sensibility.

One of Britain’s most influential living artists, Richard Long has put his journeys in nature at the heart of his work since the mid-1960s. Even when exhibited indoors, Long’s works have a strong, organic feel to them that reflects the artist’s connection to the landscape.

The Indian artist Hemali Bhuta’s often site-specific installations function both as ephemeral objects and documentation in ways that can seem contradictory. Her dramatic and impressive installation Stepping down (2010), includes several thousand candles that simulate stalactites and engender a dreamy, cave-like experience.

While the work of Sol LeWitt, Fred Sandback and Anne Truitt is largely related to Minimalism, the intimate works of Richard Tuttle evolve out of a radical reduction of the composition elements.

The artistic concerns of the younger generation are infinitely varied. The Turkish team, Özlem Günyol and Mustafa Kunt make clever use of line to comment on national identity and geopolitical issues with, for example, the background lines of different passports and the meaning of lines that represent borders between countries. American artist Adrian Esparza, born and raised in El Paso, Texas, also comments on political divides, garnering much of his source material and inspiration from his borderland experiences. In his newly made work, Esparza mounts a Mexican serape on the wall, then partially unravels it. Inspired by historic landscape paintings he guides the cotton thread through a grid of nails to create a primarily geometric design. The artist’s process of deconstructing the source results in a vibrant optical experience, which simultaneously unveils the history it represents.

Refusing to be pushed into any category of art history, Jorge Macchi makes works that provoke thought about everyday questions and offers startling perceptions with a minimum of form. Helene Appel uses selected gatherings of everyday items to make meticulous abstractions that inspire contemplation. Walking the line between art and science, Conrad Shawcross’s sculptures explore subjects that border on geometry, philosophy, physics and metaphysics.

Lines of Thought
29 February–13 May 2012
Parasol Unit
Foundation for Contemporary Art
14 Wharf Road
London N1 7RW

Words by Anna Bang

Anne Truitt Harvest Shade, 1996
Acrylic on wood
153 x 14 x 10 cm (60¼ x 5½ x 4 in)
Image copyright © Estate of Anne Truitt and courtesy Estate of Anne Truitt, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Özlem Günyol & Mustafa Kunt Ceaseless Doodle, 2009
Wall drawing with permanent marker, 320×320 cm
Courtesy of the artists
Installation view; Kunsthalle Mannheim
Photo: Cem Yücetas

Fred Sandback Untitled (Nr. 4), 1968/1983
Mild steel rod (Volkswagen Oregonbeige L81D)
61 x 334 x 61 cm
Intervals: 45 cm, 30 cm, 15 cm
Private Collection
Copyright © 2012 Fred Sandback Archive
Photography Peter Hauck, Basel


Adrian Esparza, Anne Truitt, Conrad Shawcross, Fred Sandback, Helene Appel, Hemali Bhuta, James Bishop, Jorge Macchi, Lines of Thought, Nasreen Mohamedi, Özlem Günyol & Mustafa Kunt, Raoul De Keyser, Richard Long, Richard Tuttle, Sol LeWitt,