In her second solo exhibition at red gallery Barbara Bolt presents a new suite of drawings and inks.
On first glance these could be scenes from anywhere around the world. Here commuters go on their way engaging in their daily acts commuting. Individual figures fiddle with their iPhones and androids or stare abstractly into space as time passes by. However, whilst the images are concerned with an “indifference” for the world around and highlight the social isolation that exists in the company of many like Mitra Tabrizian’s photographs, City, London, (2008) and Silent Majority (2001), these drawings are not staged but are stitched together from the photographs of spontaneous gestures of people in their everyday actions. Nor is the aim to create seamless images that are severed from reality so that they ‘cast us into the realm of imagination’ as much constructed digital photography does’.[i]
With their genesis in iPhone snapshots—many photos taken at peak hour around the city circuit—the drawings are in dialogue with photography without being photographic, creating a very different feel than Robert Longo’s drawings, Men in the Cities (1973/1983).[ii] The images are unashamedly drawings and their grainy charcoal materiality and scale or their fluid material presence implicates us as by-standers in some familiar yet uncanny reality. Here, each figure has its own positionality, its own light source and vanishing point yet there is no ground on which to fix them. The repetition across the frieze-like format creates a rhythmic dynamic, moving us across the image in fits and starts so that we may encounter the different viewpoints that each individual figure creates. The shifting and multiple perspectives produced through these ruptures may remind us of David Hockney’s photographs and recent paintings,[iii] Picasso’s simultaneous perspective and Cezanne’s inexplicable still life paintings that hover and quiver under our gaze. Drawings such as Reconciliation Elegy ask us to consider our own positionality in relation to the other, not just as viewers but also as political beings. It niggles and gives hope that imaging does have the power of interpellation and injunction and that places a responsibility on us as both makers and viewers of images.