American minimalist auteur, Richard Serra is known for his large-scale, industrially informed sculptures. In the ground-floor, windowed gallery of Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (MBVB), a pair of sculptures by the artist titled Waxing Arcs (1980, second version 1999) resides permanently. These two imposing sculptures were purchased over two decades ago and have gone through various changing placements as the museum has evolved and expanded. At one point, they were integrated as part of the entrance, much to the artists’ dismay.
The current exhibition Richard Serra: Drawings 2015-2017 continues MBVB’s longstanding commitment and support for the work of Serra, and presents around 80 drawings from five different series, Rambles, Composites, Rifts, Rotterdam Horizontals and Rotterdam Verticals, many of which have never been seen before publicly, and some that were made specifically for the city. Alongside these works are a selection of Serra’s notebooks and films offering insights into his thinking, approach and process to art making.
The first works you encounter are his sketchbooks which welcome you into the space and commencing room to room, the viewer is led on an intimate journeying into the core of Serra’s investigations into minimalism and abstraction. The palette is entirely monochromatic drawing one’s attention to the varying degrees as to how Serra has worked on the surfaces of these works on paper. Some are denser than others with either a presence of more black or more white, or rather black consuming white surfaces violently, and in other cases, lighter mark making which feels much more subtle and softer.
Using a combination of etching ink, silica, litho crayon and black oil paintstick, the surfaces of these drawings become exaggerated making them appear as if out of nature akin to a tree’s bark perhaps comes to mind due to their textured qualities.
A highlight of this exhibition is the series large site-specific works all of which were made from handmade paper and relate to the space around them: the viewer, the architecture, to the floor, the walls and to the ceiling. With these works, Serra, truly pushes the concept of drawing to its limits and in that they are monumental and completely fills the viewer’s field of vision bar the single white jagged lines that break up these vast works. Serra’s drawings like his sculptures continue his questioning of notions of time, working process and materiality.
Richard Serra: Drawings 2015-2017 will be on show at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (MBVB) until 24 September 2017
by Jareh Das