Mark I’Anson Returns to Arusha Gallery with Drawings of Soldiers, Sportsmen, and Workingwomen
After taking a hiatus to spend time with his family, Scottish artist Mark I’Anson returned to his studio, where for the past year he has been busily working on a new suite of carefully composed drawings, a selection of which is on view at Arusha Gallery in Edinburgh.
“Drawing for a revolution and a laugh” is I’Anson’s first solo show at the gallery since 2012. His process began as it often does: with photographs. To make the 50-plus drawings in this new collection, he pulled from his trove of vintage photographs, identifying images of wartime workingwomen, footballers, policemen, soldiers, clowns, and protesters. In a move that gives his compositions a degree of otherworldliness and abstraction, the artist foregrounds these figures by excluding much of the background detail that appeared in the original photographs. The settings thus seem half-erased as if they’re disappearing.
Among the artworks on display is a pencil and acrylic drawing on paper called Team 3 (Red) (2016). In it, a team of footballers poses for a group photo. They are formally arranged in two rows, seated in the front and standing in back. Their placement on paper seems off-kilter and oddly distant. And while a concrete wall (perhaps the edge of a stadium) forms a solid backdrop to the spare scene, I’Anson has chosen to leave the rest of the setting blank, such that the men appear unmoored in space.
Women dominate another drawing, For a revolution (Diptych B) (2016). They appear to be practicing gymnastics or a cheerleading routine, perhaps for a wartime pep rally. Here, the artist redacts any trace of a setting so that the women float against the paper’s spare whiteness, their youthful energy frozen in time.
“Mark I’Anson: Drawing for a revolution and a laugh” is on view at Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh, Apr. 15–May 2, 2016.