Real Worlds: Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial 2020

From 24 October 2020 until 7 February 2021 the Art Gallery of New South Wales will be celebrating the art of drawing with the fourth presentation of the ‘Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial’, supported by the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation since 2014, as a continuation of the Dobell Drawing Prize, presented by the AGNSW from 1993 to 2012.

Audiences are invited to visit the AGNSW to explore the magnificent display of intricately detailed creations selected for the ‘Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial’ exhibition titled Real Worlds. Artists Martin Bell, Matt Coyle, Nathan Hawkes, Danie Mellor, Peter Mungkuri, Becc Ország, Jack Stahel and Helen Wright articulate their unique interpretations of the world we live in with extraordinary skill and talent across the field of contemporary drawing, using a range of mediums.

Danie Mellor, A time of the world’s making, 2019, wax crayon, oil pigment wash, watercolour, metallic ink, pencil, felt-tipped marker, collage, twine, satin bower bird feathers and gilding on paper, 236 x 292cm. Collection of the artist. © Danie Mellor. Courtesy the artist and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Exhibition curator, and Art Gallery of NSW curator of Australian art, Anne Ryan, says the artists in Real Worlds “seek to interpret and comprehend the world through subjective reinvention via drawing. For some, it is grounded in a deep connection to place or Country. For others, it is a reinvention that springs forth from imagination and the subconscious, inflected by subjective experience and rich with narrative suggestion. The immediacy and intimacy of drawing is particularly attuned to the urgency of our times, and the work of each of these artists reflects the human capacity to imagine something better, or different.”

“The real world can be reckoned with, be re-seen, be understood anew, as we face its mercurial challenges. While conceived before our wild year of 2020, and created both before and during it, the drawings of Real Worlds speak with urgency and directness to where we are now,” Ryan adds.

Multi-disciplinary artist Martin Bell’s drawing is “rich with nostalgic associations of a 1980s childhood, which invites us into a tangled world of infinite narrative possibility,” the gallery shares. Hobart-based graphic artist and novelist Matt Coyle known for his graphic pen and ink drawings dishes up dark gothic, dreamlike imaginations. Nathan Hawkes’ lyrical pastel drawings imbued with poetic evocations take viewers into the realms of fairy tales and dreams.

Martin Bell, Martin Son of the Universe, what me worry (detail), 2018–19, pen and ink on 75 sheets of paper, 280 x 1140cm overall (56 x 76 cm each sheet). Collection of the artist. ©Martin Bell. Courtesy the artist and Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

The gallery notes large drawing installations by Danie Mellor reflect on the artist’s “connection with the Country of his mother’s family of the Ngadjon and Mamu peoples in the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. Mellor’s works emphasise the transcendent ecology of nature and give life to cultural histories and Dreaming narratives.” Peter Mungkuri, a senior Yankunytjatjara man from Indulkana in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands in South Australia illustrates varied species of trees in finely detailed ink and wash drawings, which bring focus to the symbolic importance of trees for Anangu culture.

Peter Mungkuri, Punu Ngura (Country with trees) 4, 2019, black and white ink on paper, 224 x 153cm. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Aboriginal Collection Benefactors Group 2019. ©Peter Mungkuri. Photograph: AGNSW, Christopher Snee. Courtesy the artist

Becc Országs’ compositions draw inspiration from landscape images sourced by the artist from the internet, which rather than depicting visions of the world as we know it, Országs’ elaborate drawings render fictitious reimaginations of utopian and dystopian lands. “Jack Stahel’s intricate, complex drawing installations use languages of scientific illustration and taxonomic systems of classification, implying that they are objective assertions of information. In fact, they are an ‘informative bunch of nonsense’, part of an ‘imaginary science’ that is paradoxically fictional in content, yet subject to rigorous methodology.” Helen Wright’s finely detailed drawings “depict teetering piles of industrial detritus, symbolising cautionary tales against egocentric hubris and the defiance of nature,” the gallery explains.

Real Worlds will tour to Lismore Regional Gallery from 27 February to 25 April 2021, and Museum of Art and Culture Lake Macquarie, yapang from 8 May to 18 July 2021.

Real Worlds: Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial