In an attempt to cover the impressive and wide variety served up to us at the glorious DJCAD 2015 Degree Show art buffet, examining Drawing and Painting as a section is in itself a purposely ambiguous task. Much as drawing does not necessarily consist of meticulously rendered pencil sketches on paper, some of the paintings on display at Duncan of Jordanstone’s “Ones to Watch” feature no paint at all. Furthering my contrived buffet food analogy, Lynne McBride’s “Food Diary Portraits” are mouth-wateringly inventive. Blending food consumed by the artist over a one month stretch, she creates paint that takes a chaotic and expressionist form on canvas. These paintings, in a sense, debunk the notion that a portrait preserves the essence of a person, as they decay and decompose just as the subject does – a fact that is often difficult to digest (I’ll stop now).
In a rather different examination of mortality, Liam Ostlere uses crows as a morbid harbinger of death. His depictions can also be considered drawings, making marks with candle-soot and spray-paint to give the birds an ephemeral and tarnished quality. Through raw and immediate drawing techniques, “Clarissa with a ‘K’” Webster (her self-affiliated title) stretches the definition of drawing through her subject matter: the subconscious, anxiety and humour. Confident that art need not be staid and morose to be contemplative, Klarissa depicts a playful and self-aware stream of consciousness in the form of half-animal characters, lyrical text and piles of coffee cups. Deliberately messy and incomplete, there is a tangible energy to her work as she illustrates our strange “isms”, a facet of our modern society, through goblin faces and dancing figures.
In a nearby studio, painter Neovi Wales offers tranquil escapism in her “seascape” oil paintings, which aim to capture an emotive relationship between the subject and the ocean. It’s encouraging to see artists who use this medium to develop a strong command of painting as a traditional practice working alongside those that choose to deconstruct and reinvent painting, as both are valid artistic enquiries that provoke thought and prompt discussion – something that this year’s graduates are certainly accomplished in. In an amalgamation of traditional painting and modern technology, Joseph Nickson creates his work through a blend of “point-cloud generation, projection mapping and digital painting”, enabling conversation regarding representational art’s place in the contemporary era.
Other artists opt for mark-making techniques in conjunction with photography that can perhaps be defined as mixed-media drawings, such as Joletta Thorburn’s evocative portraits. Using editing tools, she blocks out large shapes (formed by stuffed plastic bags during the shoots, as Thorburn demonstrates in her documentation of the process), which are then worked into the piece with pen. The result are cascading lines of pattern and shape that engulf sections of the body. Life-size depictions of these warped bodies demand a presence in the room, a bold contrast to the vulnerability the figures allude to. Providing a well-placed antidote to the previous, Ben Rogers’s work immediately strikes the viewer as facetious and colourful: a fantastically underrated combination in the artistic sphere. Initially appealing in its vibrancy and character – strange creatures or “cryptids” on stark blue walls- his work unveils itself as a celebration of typos and badly translated idioms.
A plethora of varied visual approaches and thematic concerns, this year’s “One’s to Watch” (the tagline chosen for this year’s questionable and unfittingly bland poster campaign) are indeed the 2015 graduates of Duncan of Jordanstone. Passionate, driven and diverse, this year’s Drawing and Painting studies certainly will not disappoint.