Art Dictionary

Monika Grzymala

Relationships between the image carrier and the line

Monika Grzymala’s exploration of drawing and line follows a long tradition of art philosophy, yet in recent years her works have done an imposing job of taking the line out of the two-dimensional sphere.

As early as 1607 Federico Zuccaro confronted the relationship between the concept and the line, and his ideas led him to proclaim the primacy of the line. According to him, only the drawing was equal to the “divine act of creation,” since the line is the external form of the idea and therefore the beginning of everything. For the artist Monika Grzymala (born in Zabrze, Poland, in 1970), the line and “drawing [is] thought guided by the hand,” even though her work long ago left the canvas and paper, and she weaves her lines sculpturally along walls or expands them into three dimensions in space. However, everything still starts on paper. For her, the line is “continuum, beginning and end; it can define and limit both poles, move in one, many, and all directions, or combine with other lines. It reveals relationships; it is both simple and complex alike.”

Grzymala’s works definitely deal with the architecture at hand, as her architectural interventions at the Marian Goodman Gallery in New York; The Chinati in Marfa, Texas; or at the MoMA in 2010 impressively showed. Her drawings sometimes seem to jump straight out of the walls, or, at other times, press up against other lines, then finally disappear, only to once again reappear in motion, with momentum.

In order to be able to translate lines into sculpture, Grzymala appropriates various techniques: besides using many kilometers of tape to draw either colorful or strictly monochromatic, three-dimensional, whirling gestures and poetic lineaments, most of which are only temporary, her latest works use handmade Washi paper, and she turns the relief-like, textural paper itself into drawing. Grzymala, who studied sculpture at the art schools in Karlsruhe, Kassel, and Hamburg, not only varies her artistic theme of three-dimensional drawing by using diverse materials, but she goes a step further and liberates the drawing itself, by using the texture of the paper to set it into motion. For Grzymala the physical, immediate handling of her materials has great meaning. The process of making paper produces controlled, fibrous tangles, overlaps, twists, and weaves that make it possible to see a network of lines or else allow a few fibers to gently float above the relief. The traditional technique of papermaking opens up to her “completely new ways of creating relationships between the image carrier and the line.” She succeed in uniting the two in her unique, three-dimensional paper project in the private home of Dian Woodner, in New York, where the Berlin-based artist spent three years working on a relief drawing made of Washi paper. The “drawing envelopes not just the space, but the person who lives in it, like an embrace.”

October 5, 2011 Caroline Schilling

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