21 February – 30 March 2013
137 Whitecross Street, London EC1Y 8JL
Open Thursday – Saturday 12.00 – 18.00
Paul Chiappe’s meticulous drawings are so painstakingly produced it has taken him more than a year to produce the eight small drawings that are currently on display at Carslaw St* Lukes. The exhibition brings together a series of incredibly tight drawings, which share the same source of an anonymous photograph of a group portrait of schoolchildren and a teacher, found on the internet. The subject matter is very familiar – every family album of my own generation will have a photograph like this, yellowing and curling at the corners, conjuring pungent nostalgic recollections of adolescence. The drawings are easily mistaken for black and white photographs but as one passes from image to image – the works are so detailed they almost defy scrutiny – one realises the same grouping of schoolchildren has been re-ordered and edited; individual sitters have been moved around, the group grows and shrinks and sitters are edited out, seemingly dispassionately. What is so compelling about Chiappe’s drawings is their equivalence with photographs and photography’s credentials to objective factual documentation; so it is disturbing to see history being so readily re-ordered in a way that unsettles, especially when the source material is so evocative of one’s own early documentation – after all, the idea that we may be edited out of existence has to be the ultimate terror, if one can come to terms with the fleeting nature of our existence in the first instance.
Image: Paul Chiappe, Drawing iii, Drawing Series 2012 and Drawing iv, Drawing Series 2012, pencil and acrylic on paper, each 10 x 7.5cm. Courtesy the artist and Carslaw St* Lukes