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Inscribed in the Air
January 29, 2022 – March 12, 2022
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Joan Jonas’s drawing practice has been a core through line in her work, connecting her multidimensional and disciplinary practice that spans performance, sculpture, film, and dance over the last fifty years. For her first exhibition with the Gallery, Jonas presents a selection of significant drawings that reference animals, history and her own body

Inspired by the intersection between fantasy and reality, Jonas explores myths, fairy tales, and the natural world in the works on view. The exhibition features a major installation of the series, ‘I know why they left’ (2017), created while Jonas was an Artist in Residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 2017. The artist photographed and documented an assortment of real and mythological creatures found throughout the museum, conservation labs, and archives. Redrawing and tracing from these photographs, Jonas paid particular attention to both birds and fish – animals in movement, studying their various states of swimming, gliding, and flying.

In ‘Draw on the wind’ (2018), Jonas extends this physical movement into her materials, employing bamboo and collaged paper to create kites that float in the gallery space. Following a formative trip to Hanoi in 2018, the kites were handmade in Vietnam, which Jonas then hand painted and collaged with vividly colored paper cutouts. This is the third body of work in Jonas's practice to incorporate kites and marks the European debut of "Draw on the Wind," having only ever been exhibited at the Carnegie International in 2018.        

The forms that Jonas creates in her drawings stem from the connections she holds to spaces, living beings, and even her own body. This exhibition features a series of body drawings made by the artist during live performances between 1999 and 2017, wherein the combination of drawing and performance is at the forefront. The drawings of pagodas were made in response to her piece Reading Dante. Displaying intimate and sometimes uncomfortable aspects of one’s own sensibilities, Jonas shows an examination of the self.