Tom Nicholson: Drawings and correspondence, 2019

24 March–02 June 2018, Institute of Modern Art

Tom Nicholson, Lines that could be scars (1), 2015.

Tom Nicholson, Lines that could be scars (5), 2015.

Tom Nicholson, Lines that could be scars (10), 2015.

Tom Nicholson, Lines that could be scars (15), 2015.

Tom Nicholson’s solo exhibition at the IMA surveyed the central role drawing plays in his engagement with contemporary political realities in Australia and beyond. The show presented works from 2005 to 2018, focusing on both the histories and possibilities of drawing, and its relationship to writing. Here, the line is a tool for writing, drawing and redrawing borders, evoking little known histories and intersections, and expanding into the space of possibility through abstraction.

Structured around the triptych of drawing and writing projects – Drawings and correspondence, Cartoons for Joseph Selleny, and Gorge photograph, 13 September 1939 – the exhibition centred on a large-scale iteration of the wall drawing for Cartoons for Joseph Selleny, in turn set in relation to the earliest work in the exhibition, Untitled wall drawing, also a large-scale wall drawing, drawn in alternations of H and HB pencil over 15 metres of wall. The exhibition also presented the work Lines that could be scars, and the multiple Interview, made in collaboration with Greg Lehman.

The exhibition was curated by IMA’s Executive Directors Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh. It was accompanied by the first monograph of Nicholson’s work, Lines towards Another, edited by Amelia Barikin and Helen Hughes, and co-published by the IMA, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, and Sternberg Press.


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