Linda Karshan at the Soane: Prints and Drawings 1997 - 2002
An exhibition at Sir John Soane’s Museum from 11 January - 16 March, 2002
“Labyrinths and mazes, from prehistoric times up to the present day, have been tinged with magic” Linda Karshan
The work of the celebrated American artist Linda Karshan shows, in the words of one critic, ‘that art is not a remote, insubstantial thing, but a serious commitment to effort and achievement’. The prints and drawings in this forthcoming exhibition at the Soane Gallery present the most recent chapter in a personal odyssey that has taken her from still-life compositions to fastidious abstractions of horizontals and verticals. It is these, latest, works that are closest to the dedication and discipline of the architectural drawing, presenting a stimulating comparison to the minimalist forms of Soane’s architecture.
This exhibition, running until 16 March at the Soane Gallery, Sir John Soane’s Museum, includes 7 prints and 20 drawings by Linda Karshan, as well as a number of other related works. The curator of the exhibition is Frances Carey, Deputy Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum.
Karshan’s ‘marks and tracings’ have the power both to enthral and move the viewer. They capture the artist’s momentum, seeming to come into being of their own accord. They have been likened to dances on paper, a ‘choreography of mark-making’, controlled by the positioning of the artist’s body and an acute sense of spatial awareness. Karshan’s particular drawing technique is a crucial ingredient of her work and of the viewer’s understanding of the artist’s momentum. Her preferred materials are graphite or oil sticks which she applies whilst ‘pacing her work’, rotating the paper anti-clockwise at 90° and counting beats between each turn. From the core of each image, structures grow, whether looped and cellular, rigidly horizontal and vertical, or a combination of the two. All of Karshan’s work is, therefore, paced by the beat of an internal metronome, allowing the viewer to share ‘the measure’ of the artist’s time.
Karshan talks of the likeness of her practice of drawing - the pacing out of marks on the page, the counting and turning as right angles - to ‘the maze-like structure of Sir John Soane’s Museum’. The difference is that while the Soane ‘maze’ offers a given choice of pathways, Karshan’s drawings are guided by a sense of inevitability, leading, inexorably, to one place - there is no choice.
Catalogue available from Museum shop