Lines are everywhere. Streets are covered in them – white lines, yellow line, red lines and, in America, even more colours for parking designations. Lines of buses, lines of cars, underground lines and train lines. The world is constructed around lines of longitude and latitude as drawn on schoolboy globes. Computer imagery and design relies on joining lines from coordinated points for data input. There are straight lines, wobbly lines, curved lines and wavy lines. Ships called liners sail from one place to another. Musical notes are written along lines on paper and actors have to learn their “lines”. All that can be said about a line is that it joins two points. How it does so it subject to a myriad of options and interpretations.
Lines can be short or long, Lines can be drawn, painted, sewn, projected or constructed in metal. Lines can be thick or thin, continuous or dotted. Lines can encourage car drivers forward; lines can tell them to stop. Lines appear to one of the most flexible and versatile constructions in the universe – indeed imaginary lines join stars together to form constellations. Lines can be light or dark. Lines can guide or can confuse. Line can stand rigid and erect; lines can sway in the wind
At the Lisson Gallery, Drawing Room, the only contemporary gallery in the UK dedicated to drawing, has curated a group exhibition of artworks around the theme of the “Line”.
The exhibition starts with what appears to be a white line running down the concrete staircase. Wrong! – it is in fact the opposite. Ceal Foster’s “Taking a Line for a Walk” takes a white line up the staircase to the first floor where the machine that created the line sits ready for its next expedition. Reflections in the glass balustrade make the line into a river junction.
Julian Opie transorms black and white lines into a graphic forest of trees, Jonathan Monk uses neon tubes to create curved illuminated lines, Athanasios Argianas creates three dimension structures that are straight and rectangular but hold curved flexible lines of brass ribbons while Victoria Haven’s lines float in space on the wall for as long as they are there. Jorinde Voigt translates biological structures from her visits to botanical gardens around the world into coloured coded structures and Susan Hillier creates drawings from threads which are knotted, braided, tied, looped and formed into bundles hung on the gallery wall with a political edge that such craft is “women’s work” and Richard Long, the conceptual artist, has had a long artistic and poetic interest in lines since his 1967 work “A Line Made By Walking”.
Monika Grzymala’s billowing vortex is created from several kilometres of black and transparent sticky tape, trying ro break free from the gallery environment and escape outside, while K. Yoland has sought to tame the outside world in Texas by laying out a red line across the landscape, which could be seen on the one hand as a scar but on the other as a new river of colour subject to wind and other natural elements, photographs and video of which are included here
The four letter word “Line” should be so simple, but yet it can be so complex. Artists have created lines in so many ways, as indeed have architects as the rectilinear façade and spaces of the Lisson Gallery itself express. This exhibition shows a few of the ways that artists have drawn lines – and that is before the whole new world of new world of digital lines……