In those early years David Weiss (1946–2012) explored a range of visual idioms with the same playful curiosity that infused his later collaborative work with Fischli. Some of the earliest drawings were made during his extensive travels from his native Switzerland to London, Montreal, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Mexico, Morocco, and Italy. Many of them convey this restless spirit, particularly the multi-sheet Metamorphoses, with their hallucinatory transformations of free-associated images, or his World Maps drawings, which depict the earth’s major landmasses with affectionate looseness.
The over fifty drawings in the exhibition are executed in a variety of media and in a wide range of sizes. Weiss’s love for underground and classic comics can be seen in the drawings of smoking Giacometti sculptures and flirtatious flowers. Rendered with cartoonish black lines on bright watercolor backgrounds, they embody not only his absurdist humor but also his sense of wonder. As Barry Schwabsky writes in the accompanying catalogue, “These works reflect a commitment neither to a particular type of subject matter, nor to a particular way of drawing, but rather to an exploration of drawing as such.” This exploration is clear in the Neocolor series, with its colorful sgraffito marks in oil pastel, and the Women series, a showcase of brushwork techniques in ink and watercolor.