As I’m participating in the upcoming ‘Pareidolia’ show at Matthew Macaulay’s Pluspace in Coventry I had occasion to visit last weekend that gave me the opportunity to view David Beaumont’s Drawings. I curated a show of recent large scale drawing last year at Harrington Mill and in my introduction suggested that “Drawing is paradoxically both better and worse off than it has ever been. As the first way in which humans made sense of their surroundings visually it remains central to the idea of our visual culture, at the same time the advent of technology has made it – for many artists – utterly redundant. It features rarely in many contemporary art events.” So it is refreshing to see an artist at work for whom drawing is the process and the product of his creativity. That the subject of the work is a careful, indeed almost forensic, examination of his surroundings is also fairly surprising, much of the drawing activity I have recently seen by younger artists tending to be process driven. The exhibition features a dozen or so of his recent output. Most of the subjects are probably recognisable to those who frequent the streets depicted on a regular basis but the show explicitly doesn’t reveal location except by occasion reference to signage. This is I suspect to serve not to distract the viewer from a careful inspection of the topography of each location. The construction of which is quite calculated and painstakingly accurate. Indeed the work has a meticulousness that betokens the level of sophistication at work here. Evidence of the working out of placement and the heavily invoked selectivity of the angle and cropping set against the demands of the papers edge are testament to the creative vision of the artist.
Another striking aspect of these drawings is the beautiful use of negative space and the signifier of blankness that is a feature of windows and other apertures in each of the works. Such careful and considered deployment of the light that is occasioned by the heavy working of line around these punctures in the image is yet further indication of their specialness. So much contemporary practice (across the so called ‘expanded’ field of painting, drawing and sculpture) is dependent on gesture, on the ‘casual’ or provisional that something like a Beaumont drawing that is so rigorously planned and executed comes as something of a shock. But its a really good shock and one that, in his case, one can look forward to seeing more of.
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