The Dot and The Line
In literature, it is often said, "the pen is mightier than the sword." But, for the visual arts, I proclaim it is the modest pencil that wins the strongman competition. Drawing is the core building block for all artists. The simplicity and diversity of graphite makes it (when in the right hands) one of the most versatile and expressive means to convey a two dimensional image. A properly wielded pencil can reveal tremendous grace and evoke a vast depth of meaning in its simple strokes.
This month at Migration, Laura and I have brought the work of two of the finest drawers in the country together. Warren Craghead, from Charlottesville, Virginia, will be exhibiting pages from his recent illustrated books including This Is A Ghost and How To Be Everywhere (based on the poetry of Guillaume Apollinaire). He will also be showing a series of new collages and signed copies of his books. Brian Mallman, from Los Angeles, California, is a master of graphite on board (paper too) whose work explores themes of connection, interaction and communication. Brian's detailed yet quirky images have been highly acclaimed everywhere we show them.
Warren Craghead believes in the power of drawing as an expressive medium and has exhibited his work internationally. Quietly, Warren is changing the face of the art world by lifting comics to the realm of high art. He has also published many works including the Xeric Grant winning Speedy and several collaborations with poets and writers, one of which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2006. In 2008 alone, Warren has received great praise as an Ignatz Prize nominee for Outstanding Artist; winning a Notable Selection award from This Year's Best American Comics (editor: Lynda Berry); and, most recently, being selected as a finalist for the prestigious Trawick Prize.
Warren received an MFA in 1996 from the University of Texas at Austin [writer’s note: Hook’Em Horns!] and a BFA in 1993 from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. He also attended the Skowhegan School in 1993. Warren describes his work as follows:
My work explores the absurd idea of how to be everywhere. It insists that art can be accessible, cryptic, and beautiful all at the same time. My drawings, collages, paintings, book and mail art are inspired by my experience in the ordinary world. They contain spontaneous without thinking narratives that process and encode everyday life and the written word into discrete, pictographic, nonlinear stories that can be encountered everywhere: a sticker on a pole, a booklet in a newspaper, a postcard in the mail, an image on a website, a collage in a gallery.
(The above images of Warren's work include: Top Left, This is a Ghost; Top Right, Untitled collage; Bottom Left, cover to How to Be Everywhere; Bottom Right, Lisboa)
Brian Mallman's drawings have been a mainstay at Migration since we opened. He was also a focus of our exhibits at both the artDC and AAF NYC gallery fairs where he garnered loads of attention and sales from a variety of sophisticated collectors, gallerists and news media. Brian has been living and working as an artist in Los Angeles since 2003, where his prices are steadily rising as he gathers impressive kudos. He earned a BFA in drawing from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and was an artist-in residence at the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center before launching his West Coast career. His mastery of the graphite line plus his choice of subject matter - relationships - make his work extremely resonant. About his work, Brian says:
Human interaction and levels at which people are able, or not able, to connect with themselves and with each other has always fascinated me. Much of what we do and how we behave is an attempt to understand and prove our own existence. We surround ourselves with objects, people and philosophies in an attempt to define ourselves as individuals and therefore reinforce our existence. Much of my recent work deals with the subtle hierarchies that are established when people interact and the posturing and gesturing that takes place to create and reinforce these hierarchies.
(The above images of Brian's work include: Top Left, Meetings #15; Top Right, Meetings #18; Bottom Left, Meetings #33; Bottom Right, Meetings #16)
Laura and I have long sought to bring these two drawing heavyweights together in one show [note: Interestingly, but not surprisingly, both artists have admired one another's work]. We could not be more pleased to make our final Charlottesville exhibit The Dot and The Line. Warren's and Brian's art sums up much of what we deeply admire in today's visual arts scene.