Monumental yet intimate (because hand-made drawings always are intimate, no matter the size), the works of Riette Wanders have an impact.
Wanders’ practice is one of limited boundlessness: she limits herself to one medium – drawing – and a number of rules: a drawing must always be abstract, at best vaguely alluring to recognisable realities (the teeth of a saw, bowels, typography); a drawing must be flat (i.e. should not simulate depth); no colours are to be applied expect black, white and grey.
Line, field, composition.
Yet Wanders’ work never feels stern, I wouldn’t even call it formal. It is playful, bold, quirky. Wanders mentions music as one of her main inspirations. Music is always abstract, even when it attempts to render extra-musical content. The same holds true for Wanders’ art. Looking at her works like this, one can distinguish ‘loud’ and ‘soft’ parts in her drawings, murky and clear ones. Rhythm. A scratch and a swoosh, a bang and a whisper.
Expressive as some of her works may seem, every drawing is the result of careful consideration. Studies precede every drawing. A series of four drawings (‘Same same but different’, 2019) reveals the process: far from identical, they are still ‘the same’. Their sameness is in the plan, the layout if you will, in the distribution of the elements and their directions, while the lines behave like convulsions – as they please. A plan can be copied, a drawing (in the proper sense of the word) cannot.
Drawing is often considered the most fundamental of all art forms. (Unfortunately, it is not always taken as seriously as its bigger siblings, painting, and sculpture.) There is something phenomenally evocative in the hand-drawn line. A good drawing, while being contemporary, arches back over millennia of culture, to reconnect to our cave-dwelling ancestors.
Wanders treats this most fundamental of disciplines for what it is: fundamental – and while doing so, she brings a brutal musicality to the table.