Very Fine Lines

"I feel most honest and sincere when drawing on paper," artist Pedro Vizcaino confesses in the slim catalogue accompanying the exhibition "Drawing Conclusions," which opened last week on the second floor of the Buena Vista Building in Miami's newest hipster hangout, the Design District. "Drawings are a process by which artists can experiment," offers Jide Shabaka. For Martin Oppel, a drawing is "a sketch for something that may happen." While Christian Schumann figures drawing is a good way "to eliminate boredom."

From scrapbook sketches to automatic scribble, mutant comics, and fantasy cityscapes drafted in meticulous detail, "Drawing Conclusions" offers definitions of drawing by 35 artists of various generations from Miami and beyond. These include popular Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara as well as Tavaris Evans, a fifteen-year-old from Liberty City, who creates his gritty geometric compositions with electrical tape and oil pastel. While drawings on paper predominate, some works also incorporate aluminum, latex, cardboard, photographs, Mylar, carpet, and liquid rubber.

"Drawing is totally fresh and comes right from within," says Nina Arias, the show's energetic curator, who culled the many works from galleries and Miami collectors as well as from artists themselves. The immediacy and intimacy of drawings -- intensified by the proximity required to view the habitually small works in detail -- has ensured their perennial attraction. Another kind of accessibility is important to Arias, who has recently started to collect art herself -- drawings are less expensive than paintings or sculpture. The present popularity of drawings, perhaps enhanced by an introspective moment in time and an economic downturn, has recently been demonstrated by an expansive show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and here at Art Basel, where galleries featured a large number of works on paper.

With "Drawing Conclusions" Arias has put together a pleasing post-Basel testament to the current artistic energy readily flowing through Miami. While not incorporating every local artist, the survey attests to the individuality and originality of artists in town. To wit: Tomas Esson, whose erotic drawing weaves succulent body parts into the shape of the Cuban flag; Tao Rey, whose black-and-white graffiti fields boggle the mind; Bhakti Baxter, whose ethereal chalk lines soothe; and Martin Oppel, whose irresistible portrait of a flattened traffic cone popping from a white background dazzles the eye. Elsewhere, Pedro Vizcaino creates an installation of crazy colored cardboard planes engaging in combat on the wall. Francie Bishop Goode shows multilayered scenes of children watching violent images on television in their comfortable homes. And Ruben Torres-Llorca, who renders biting portraits of art dealers and critics with master draftsmanship, defines acrylic on canvas as a drawing.

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Judy Cantor