This substantial and really rather magnificent volume presents a worldwide survey of figurative drawing as it is now. With the exception of Louise Bourgeois, each of the seventy artists represented is still living. Styles vary from pure representation to abstract, and from the very loose to tight, detailed works. The categorisations are broad – body, self, personal lives, social reality and fictions, which means that images are presented in a more or less random order, enhancing the sense of surprise as you turn the pages. Roger Malbert has very sensibly avoided the temptation to shoe-horn such varied material into themes, where styles and media would inevitably clash and overshadow each other, while at the same time adding just enough editorial control to avoid complete chaos.
The blurb that accompanies the review copy tells me that “the imagery is brimming with psychological insight, humour, sexuality and pathos” and I wouldn’t disagree, though I might add that it also brings to the table whatever the reader wants it to – it’s rightly a subjective presentation.
Areas of interest wax and wane, but drawing – art at its most fundamental – is enjoying a resurgence and this is a timely snapshot of a rich period.
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