The last decade in the international art world has seen the act of drawing and graphic tendencies welcomed into the hallowed halls of arts institutions. It is more frequent that we come across artists whose practice is based in the act of drawing, or with a strong graphic sensibility. Typically sidelined as a less than serious pursuit or as a means of preparation and study, Hanged + Drawn thrusts 6 Canadian artists of inimitable skill and talent forward as the vanguard of this new generation of mark makers. Hanged + Drawn highlights artists who are forming the basis of their artistic practices in their ability to develop a drawn language. These artists have all been the focus of critical contemporary collectors and institutions, having shown in almost all major international art fairs and within museums and institutions across North America and Europe.

One of the explanations for an emergence of drawing based practitioners can be seen in the shifting practices of contemporary printmakers. With the availability of print making studios and shops dwindling, and the proliferation of low cost digital print studios and galleries, young printmakers are finding more immediacy in the drawing process. Pierre Durette and Amanda Nedham, both schooled in printmaking departments, have both turned to the act of drawing to realize their projects. While drawing techniques always played a major role in their intricate exploration of world histories, whereas the act of printmaking was less integral. Durette’s “Propagation” series depicts a layered accumulation of centuries of international gatherings and processions hand-inked on layers on acrylic medium. Nedham, similarly interested in the complex web of intertwined cultural histories, has developed a mark making technique rooted in her training as a printmaker. Whereas painters approach a mark with an understanding of the ability to alter that mark, printmakers are cautious and incredibly intent driven when applying each stroke, as it often results in a permanence rarely experienced by the painter. Nedham’s technique requires an immense amount of time-spent drawing, and the devotional commitment employed is a trait echoed, in the work of Nicholas Di Genova.

Maintaining the level of technical facility shown in Hanged + Drawn demands a devotional studio practice. Slaving over the replication and definition of the most miniscule details, the push to compete with artists tackling conceptual issues head on finds these artists facing many challenges. Di Genova’s early influence of Japanese Manga and his later interest in the taxonomic role of scientific illustration manifests itself in a drawn language of marks unrivalled by many in his generation, and is sought after by major collectors, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. Di Genova’s subject matter, often collisions of multiple species, finds themselves drawn in incredible detail and expression. The work finds connections to the emerging trend of street art and illustration that has made it’s way into the commercial gallery system. While this is an undeniable shift, the quality of work made in the spirit of those two disciplines often fail to measure up with the conceptual grounding of fine artists. Di Genova is one of few examples in Canada of one who has made the commitment to a studio practice and seen the attention to his intricate work explode internationally with galleries in Toronto, New York City and Paris.

Tom Ngo faces a similar shift from one discipline to another. Trained as an Architect and currently employed by the esteemed Moriyama and Teshima Architects in Toronto, his practice involves exploring the possibilities of absurdity in architecture. Rooted firmly in design methodology, Ngo alters elements of plans and drawings to explore the inherent possibilities for change in our built environments. Technical facility being an obvious requirement for his profession, his abilities and conceptual approach fuel a rich exploration of concepts and ideas culled from the realm of architectural practice.

The work of Luke Painter and Tristram Lansdowne share elements of Ngo’s architectural explorations, but focus on the role time plays in our interpretation of spaces and places. Entropy is paramount in the work of Lansdowne, underlining the impermanence of man made structures, their flaws, and their ability to alter our landscape. Often in an advanced state of entropy, the subjects of Lansdowne’s watercolour paintings, are painstakingly rendered in each weathered brick, each piece of graffiti and the immensity of natural elements, be it a cross section of violent volcanoes or the flora reclaiming a site abandoned for many years. Visually similar in it’s exploration of entropy and the man made structure, Painter’s works in ink on paper use the structure as the stage to invite a collision of historical decorative elements. Collapsing centuries of references in a single piece, Painter evokes an eerie unrest within his pictures, devoid of humans, as are many of the works included in the exhibition, and relying on the power of structures to serve as proxies for experienced history.

Never before, has a group of artists turned to drawing as the core element of their work as displayed by this group of stellar artists. Hanged + Drawn is an exhibition bringing together a group of Canadian artists, whose generation no longer scoffs at the integration of drawing and works on paper. While art history has always valued these types of works by it’s artists, never before has there been such a tidal shift in the acceptance of large works on paper employing drawing and graphic techniques as the core of a practice. With a generation of curators and writers struggling to position this contemporary adoption of fine drawing techniques, they find followers amongst their peers and institutions, which pride themselves on attracting and exhibiting the avant-garde.