Old Drawings; Flocks; ‘Against Clarity’; Her garden, a mirror; RM; NYABF 2018


An abstract drawing from the 73,000-year-old levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa
Christopher S. Henshilwood, Francesco d’Errico, Karen L. van Niekerk, Laure Dayet, Alain Queffelec & Luca Pollarolo // https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0514-3

This South African cave stone may bear the world’s oldest drawing

Other finds have included 100,000- to 70,000-year-old pigment chunks engraved with crosshatched and line designs, 100,000-year-old abalone shells containing remnants of a pigment-infused paint and shell beads from around the same time.


Shea Hennum reviews the new book by L. Nichols, Flocks

The way that Nichols visually renders these pleasures is similarly worth noting. Throughout the book, Nichols signals emotional states by drawing arrows towards himself. These arrows sometimes take the form of lightning bolts, scraggly and castigating lines, or straight lines annotated with mathematical formulae. Whenever he is made to feel bad, insulted, or harassed, he represents this by drawing a line—literally—from the elicitor to himself, as if to say that these figures are pushing in on him, enforcing themselves on him. The lines coming at him are signs of oppression and hate. He reverses this to represent the love he feels in communion with God, rendering those scenes with a halo of lines emanating outward, emerging from within himself. This is part and parcel of Nichols’ broader aesthetic, which merges expressionistic portraiture with elements of naturalistic cartooning. The world is, by and large, rendered realistically so that it resembles the world and the people resemble people. Nichols renders himself, however, as a doll—alternately resembling a ragdoll and a crash-test dummy. This method of portraiture makes Nichols’ self-image infinitely pliable, and, I imagine, less emotionally taxing for him to manipulate. We see his body altered—in some cases, expressionistically disfigured; in some cases, literally disfigured—and Nichols can be explicit without being graphic. He can affect us deeply without it repelling us with viscera. The story is a deeply emotional one—that is, it is about emotions, emotional turmoil and distress—and Nichols affectively renders that core thematic visually. He makes it felt in not just what he draws but also in the way he draws it.

L. Nichols


Megan Kelso

Against Clarity
Austin English continues his deep dive into comics, art, and art comics, this time looking at work by Megan Kelso, William Blake, 400 year-old paintings from India, and some contemporary political cartoonists (to name a few).

A masterpiece like “Three Trees of India”, an illuminated 16th-century manuscript (sometimes on view at the Met), feels like a grand lost artifact of sequential art that, again, fits uneasily with contemporary comics’ self-conception as vessels of clarity. The peaks and valleys of emotion that this work suggests has been traded for a photocopy of Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, which in theory sounds fine, as Bushmiller’s simplicity rivals the complexity of Blake. Yet few (if any) cartoonists are Bushmiller.

William Blake


Her garden, a mirror

Chitra Ganesh continues her exploration of gender and power in a futurist imaginary in this solo exhibition taking as a point of departure the utopian, feminist, sci-fi novella from 1905 called Sultana’s Dream by Bengali author and social reformer Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain. These new works in printmaking, sculpture, and video engage art historical and literary sources to further reimagine the roles of the individual and the collective during periods of societal turbulence. Curated by Matthew Lyons.


Reclamation Project: Rob Clough reviews Josh Bayer’s RM

Bayer veers from an open page format with no panels to hand-drawn panels. He carefully employs a lot of negative space in order to let his drawings breathe a little and to make the otherwise blocky aspect of his figures more legible in terms of their actions on the page. Bayer is once again interpreting the drawings of Sal Buscema here, a master storyteller in terms of pacing, panel-to-panel transitions, and clarity, and he maintains these aspects of the original art while putting his own unique stamp.

Josh Bayer





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