BLANK LIONS brought together Katrin Hanusch, Linda Hemmersbach, Jack Vickridge and Isobel Wohl, four UK-based artists working in sculpture, drawing and painting at Bankley Gallery, Manchester in 2018.
Interested in the ‘Un’ within ‘Un-knowing’, the works play with a reversal of known processes and the un-doing of learned knowledge, questioning clarity and the pre-meditated within the making process.
Sharing a material-driven approach, particular attention is paid to touch, surface, colour and arrangement. Materials from the artists’ everyday surroundings are selected for their specific physical and pictorial qualities: concrete, mud, biodegradable plastic packaging or discarded laptop screens. The magnification of these qualities draws attention to the act of looking and questions the way we touch and experience the world. Muted tones reminiscent of the palette of Piero della Francesca hint at times of transition within the natural world, just as the works on display move from one visual language to another.
BLANK LIONS refers to the term HIC SVNT LEONES (Here are lions), which was used by Roman and Medieval cartographers when denoting unknown territories on maps. Rather than striving towards eventually discovering and naming unknown locations, the artists seem to be interested in moving towards a state of blankness; erasing that which is unnecessary and allowing space for the presence of something that cannot be named. Subtle stitching on transparent plastic, silent screens void of information, calligraphic marks reminiscent of landscapes and scattered fragments of dusty-coloured cement suggest that blankness and muteness can be forms of understanding rather than things to be identified.
When we imagine the works as ‘texts from a language that has not been given to us to read’ [i], meaning is found within the gaps of information, where absence is filled with resonance and new possibilities arise within the loss of solidity.
[i] Berger, J. (2016). How to resist a state of forgetfulness. Confabulations. Penguin