ICA’s new exhibition ‘Keep Your Timber Limber’ reminds us how artists have been at forefront of social and political change

The group show explores how artists from the 1940s to the present day have used drawing to address ideas critical to their time, such as sexuality and fundamental social change.

GREGOR MUIR | WEDNESDAY 12 JUNE 2013
TOM OF FINLAND (Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled, 1961, Graphite on paper, 12.34” x 8.63”, ToFF #61.05, © 1961 Tom of Finland Foundation

TOM OF FINLAND (Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled, 1961, Graphite on paper, 12.34” x 8.63”, ToFF #61.05, © 1961 Tom of Finland Foundation

On the face of it, Keep Your Timber Limber is a works-on-paper show – an exhibition about drawing, which some may consider less relevant given recent excitements about shinier and more lavish art works. However, viewed through the ICA lens, the show and the drawings contained within should defy expectations.

Curated by Sarah McCrory, the exhibition touches on a range of sexual, social and political issues as expressed through the seemingly marginalised medium of drawing. I say this recalling my own experience at art school, where drawing was often viewed as a more preparatory form of activity – as though it were on the road to something greater, such as painting, rather than an end in itself. Thankfully, views on the importance of works on paper are changing.

Keep Your Timber Limber promises to be a compelling new exhibition, but, most important of all, I hope it goes a long way toward underlining the power of the marginal, and how such a seemingly innocent practice as drawing can give rise to the most profound cultural shifts.

Keep Your Timber Limber (Works on Paper)
ICA, London SW1, 19 June to 8 September

 

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