The Fall MES 2019 – 21 x 29,7cm, pen and laser print on paper. Private collection, London
The following text was written about this drawing by Andrew Renton, 2019
This drawing of the late Mark E Smith of the Fall turned up on my Instagram feed last week at just the moment when I needed it. I’d been working on the thesis that the best drawings mark absences (of image, of place) as much as they make a commitment to witnessing, while grappling with the likes of Rauschenberg’s erased de Kooning drawing and a Kippenberger self-portrait on hotel paper as evidence for this.
David Powell’s drawing touches another nerve in navigating these absences, and it proves just how necessary contemporary drawing can be. It’s about a desire to possess things or capture them when you know the object of your gaze and desire cannot be grasped. It’s about fandom, which is an elevated form of identification, observation and even time travel. What I love about this drawing is that it revisits the familiar, draws upon given images and sources, and reconstitutes them with the subjectivity that only an artist can offer. Derived from a found photograph, sourced from the internet, juxtaposed with the cover of an early Fall single, its exemplary in its lo-fi handmadeness, which is itself about the immediacy of drawing.
These sources, collaged together like the back of your old school notebook insist that such imagery, in a digital age, is perpetually present, and belongs to all of us. A shared knowledge and collective ownership. And what does it mean to copy the already copied?
The artist can’t help his gaze. Not always a preliminary model towards a more fleshed out version, the drawing can also reclaim territory that has long been worked out, over-worked, even, and iconic. It rethinks its origins, putting the viewer back into the frame. It’s almost a readymade and comes with baggage. History brought into the present tense. Drawing, here, as absolute identification, carrying forward an entire backstory or, in this case, back catalogue. It makes me think about what Kierkegaard said about repetition; that it was a kind of recollection forwards. And nothing less than an ethical engagement.
(And perhaps I should mention that the Fall are my favourite band of all time.)
David Powell – Since 2018 I’ve been making work about the British indie music scene. Many of the bands I’m interested in were given a platform on John Peel’s radio show, if they got too famous he’d usually stop playing them, after all it was about giving exposure to unknown and new forms of music at the margins of the mainstream. My highly emotional connection with these bands began in my teens at a time when my only goals were to go to art school and see as many bands as possible.
My lifelong fascination with alternative bands and their legacies has more or less defined my practice.
The paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures and publications I make refer to fandom and collective identification, they begin to make departures into the nature of spectatorship, the potential of art and poetry to encapsulate something unashamedly emotional.
At it’s core my work embraces a collective social dynamics that strives to bring people together.
The challenge of the contemporary exhibition format for me lies in exploring non hierarchical approaches to traditional mediums by retaining the purity of the studio as the main site of production. In this sense I see my work as a background to a sequence of live events.
I’m interested in working with people from different culturally creative spheres with an emphasis on inclusivity and new forms of collaboration. I’m seeking new exchanges and reflections on music, literature and art.