Home Magazine Meetme#31 | Drawing Now Art Fair

As of last Monday, millions of Europeans have been quarantined in their own cities and many realities are temporarily closed due to the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19). Also, art fairs and all private and public cultural institutions have closed or have been postponed, because nothing is more important than health and safety. However, we will continue to inform our public through our Magazine and the work of our galleries on Kooness. In these challenging times, we believe that art can keep us alive and connected. This is why we will share our interviews and dialogues with Fairs and Gallery Directors, as well as Artists and Collectors.

In Paris, Drawing Now Art Fair has been postponed, and here we are with a few words by the artistic director Joana P.R. Neves.


Joana P.R. Neves, Drawing Now Art Fair.


Dear Joana, you have been conducting the role of artistic director of “Drawing Now” since 2017. You are based in London, and you work as a “connecting” curator with Paris. How did you get to be the director of the fair? When were you called?

Christine Phal approached me around that time in a really lovely manner as the founder of a fair that had already conquered the hearts of collectors and institutions. Philippe Piguet has done great work as artistic director before me so the challenge was to think of what I could bring. Beyond the obvious answer of the different network and perhaps a more international approach, I focused on an embodied and expanded idea of drawing: performance, experimentalism, a political and educational role it can take on as well. I also enjoy being close to the exhibitors and the artists, to talk about the projects beforehand because this is a medium-based art fair and all the participants question themselves all the time about the extent to which we can call a drawing on ceramic or on a computer screen a drawing. The emphasis is on the word ‘now’, which is really exciting.


Drawing Now Art Fair 2019, Irene Laub Gallery, Installation view


Drawing Now Art Fair 2018. Photo by Emmanuel Nguyen


A peculiarity of Drawing Now Art Fair – as the name suggests itself – is the medium: you chose to deal with works mainly on paper. Do you think the art system supports drawing as much as other ways of making art?

I think in a way it supports it more. Granted, this is a bit of a provocation, but with the work that art centres dedicated to drawing such as the Drawing Room in London or the Diepenheim Drawing Center, for instance, have done, not to mention our fair, there is a real inclination for drawing because it still is the real ‘bad boy’ of the arts. It is not a genre, it was never monumentalized and praised as the best form of art. It is a form of discipline that can be monumental or tiny – but even when it is in fact monumental such as Julie Mehrethu’s works, it maintains a freshness that still prevents it from being monolithical and, dare I say it, patriarchal. Drawing is also the form of expression of the outsider, from art brut to women artists who worked from the 1960s up until now without much recognition. It can be very political and very personal in a direct way: mark making is an easy thing to do but it remains on the page, it validates a gesture: this can go from Rirkrit Tiravanija’s Demonstration Drawings to Odonchimeg Davaadorj’s meandering installations, inhabiting different kinds of bodies through her drawing as a woman. Moreover, drawing has something which is accessibility: you might not be able to buy a big sculpture, but perhaps you may afford a drawing of the same artist.

Who chose the 70 galleries participating in the fair? From which countries? And what suggestions would you give to collectors, galleries and art lovers who just started to visit art fairs?

We have a very passionate committee and we vote together like any other art fair. The Philippines are represented for the first time this year, and we have a longstanding relationship with countries like Belgium, Austria, Spain or Germany. Galleries apply either every year if they have a several artists who work with drawing, or they apply when one of their artists has a special project they want to highlight. This makes for a surprising outcome every year; I believe that is one of the major reasons to come see us. Drawing is an excellent way to introduce an artist to the market as a gallery or to get acquainted with the new tendencies of the art world in an approachable manner. I take much more pleasure in visiting smaller events than in going to big blockbuster art fairs, which I think is true for collectors who are just starting or even those who already have a substantial collection and want to seek novelty. I emphasize this approachability because art fairs can sometimes appear daunting, too much. But if you turn this thought around, you will see that it is a way to explore different countries, different artists, several generations and schools of thought in one single spot, with professionals at your disposal to introduce the work. For an independent or an institutional curator an art fair is an opportunity for research, especially Drawing Now where we always have a thematic exhibition and where we recently started a program of performances. The latter is of importance because some artists work more specifically in this realm of ephemeral, embodied actions and they need institutional curators and directors to see this aspect of their work in order to hire them and include them in festivals and performance programs. Therefore, for the artists, an art fair is also an excellent platform to showcase a new body of work. I think of a good art fair as a meeting place.

Cover image: Drawing Now Art Fair, 2019, Galerie Alain Gutharc, DRAWING NOW Art Fair 2018 © Emmanuel Nguyen Ngoc. 

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.

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