Art On Paper

Two NYC Exhibits Paying Homage to Papyrus and Pulp

As the month of May blossoms and we continue our exploration of Paper in a Digital Age, ADC will be busy covering anything and everything paper, from our Paper Expo this Thursday, to the debate about the medium’s relevance that has become a foundation of the design community, to all the paper-based art we can find. Luckily, New York City has an endless supply of niche art to take in, with exhibitions opening at galleries and museums nearly every day and a rich offering of special-interest institutions championing their specific mediums.

One such institution is The Drawing Center, which is the only fine arts institution in the country that focuses solely on the exhibition of drawings. Rather than treating sketches and other works on paper as a means to the end of painting or as a “practice” for other forms, The Drawing Center celebrates the art of putting pencil to paper as worthy of its own study and conversation.

Their current exhibition features a collection of drawings by the timeless architect Lebbeus Woods, on display now through June 15. Woods created almost all of the stunningly complex and other-worldly drawings, maps, and designs in this show using pencil and paper — and never intended them to have a life off the page. That he spent so many hours, days and in some cases, years, shading, etching, and sketching these blueprints for architectural dreams he knew (and preferred) would never be realized lends the show an air of holiness, casting Woods as some kind of architect-cum-monk.

The incredible detail in these pieces is only surpassed by their imaginative power: a series of plans for a beautiful space-traveling memorial to Albert Einstein, drawings of cityscapes that consider new possibilities for the organization of physical space, and a collection of notebooks detailing Wood’s understanding of political influences on architecture are some highlights of this quietly monumental exhibit. Perhaps because they so poignantly juxtapose the complexity of the collective experience of space with the simplicity of paper as a medium, these drawings remind the viewer that the purest form of artistic expression will never require touch-screens or styluses.

The same conclusion can be drawn from a small but affecting exhibit at  Gallery GAIA  called Paper Cuts, which features five artists who actually make the paper they use in their work, attuning to the medium’s nuances from the very beginning of their process. The colorful, collage-like pieces light up this small space in the Vinegar Hill neighborhood, which features monthly shows and is focused on providing an intimate space for encountering contemporary art. Gallery GAIA has limited hours on Saturdays and Sundays from 2-8 PM but can also be visited by appointment.

Stay tuned for more reviews and coverage of all the paper-based exhibits and events taking place this month across New York City, and email if you have an event or show you’d like to see covered anywhere else in the world!