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Two years, 1,242 drawings: Blanton exhibition spotlights draftsmanship of James Drake
James Drake’s Studio. Photo courtesy of the artist.

AUSTIN, TX.- The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin presents an immersive exhibition of works by virtuosic draftsman James Drake. Anatomy of Drawing and Space (Brain Trash) represents the culmination of two consecutive years of active creation by the Texas native, now Santa Fe-based artist. Committing to draw every day for two years starting in 2012, Drake devised a disciplined yet flexible production system that resulted in an astonishing 1,242 individual drawings depicting wild animals, landscapes, studies of human anatomy, scientific formulas, and representations of classical art and family photographs, among other subjects. Together, they comprise a monumental installation revealing his most enduring preoccupations and references – from communication and culture to violence and addiction. This exhibition, which was organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and debuted there this summer, is on view at the Blanton October 19, 2014 through January 4, 2015.

For the Blanton’s installation, Drake’s unframed drawings have been pinned directly to gallery walls in expansive grids that stretch from floor to ceiling, providing an unconventional, surprisingly intimate look at the artist’s innermost thoughts, fears, and observations in a studio-like atmosphere.

“Bringing this fresh and invigorating series by James Drake to the Blanton underscores the museum’s commitment to promoting lively conversations about contemporary art,” remarks Blanton Director Simone Wicha. “This exhibition provides a revealing view of the artist’s mind, the drawings like a visual diary of his thought process. Drake’s vision and skill will undoubtedly inspire students at the University of Texas and other visitors. We are pleased to partner with the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego to bring this unmatched body of work to Austin.”

In a departure from Drake’s better-known work in sculpture and video, Anatomy of Drawing and Space (Brain Trash) is one of the artist’s most notable accomplishments, giving form to a sustained artistic inquiry that is both existential and immediate. Using pencil, ink, and charcoal, and often incorporating collage and stencil work, Drake’s renderings range from prosaic observations of landscapes and native creatures to meditations on cyclical themes such as order and chaos, life and death, innovation and legacy. As Drake worked in his studio, his skillful labor was improvised, with each sheet of paper recording the artist’s unrestrained musings as they arose in his mind. Some of these stream-of-consciousness drawings are simple and singular, while others compound into series, exposing ten discrete chapters with distinct overriding concerns. Simultaneously contemporary and traditional, the drawings serve as an echo of Drake’s studio – the artist’s mind played out on epic scale.

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Two years, 1,242 drawings: Blanton exhibition spotlights draftsmanship of James Drake

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