Joseph Beuys: Reservoirs of impulse: drawings, 1950s–1980s
Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery – Sep 04 to Oct 20, 2023 Seoul (South Korea)
I ask questions, I put forms of language on paper, I also put forms of sensibility, intention and idea on paper, all in order to stimulate thought. And I not only want to stimulate people, I want to provoke them. — Joseph Beuys
Reservoirs of impulse, the inaugural exhibition to take place in the ground-floor gallery of the newly-expanded Thaddaeus Ropac Seoul, is the first presentation in South Korea dedicated solely to Joseph Beuys’s drawings.
Carving out his place at the forefront of post-war European art, Beuys understood drawing to underpin all aspects of his multifaceted work as a sculptor, pioneering performance artist, theorist, teacher, environmentalist and political activist.
The physical act of drawing.
Crucially, he did not conceive of his works on paper as studies or preparatory materials for projects in other mediums. Rather, he experienced the physical act of drawing as the primary means to crystallise his conceptual thinking. As Ann Temkin, art historian and curator at The Museum of Modern Art, New York writes, ‘Beuys has been described by those who knew him as constantly drawing; he drew while travelling, while watching TV, while in private discussion, while in performance. Beuys’s attitude towards drawing implied it to be as intrinsic to him as breathing.
1950s to the 1980s.
Spanning four decades of Beuys’s creative output, from the 1950s to the 1980s, the works on view in Seoul illustrate major themes that recur throughout the artist’s oeuvre. Drawings of animals, plants and landscapes reflect Beuys’s lifelong interest in the natural sciences, a passion that almost prompted him to enter a career in medicine. Animals appear as highly coded symbols, referencing Christianity, Germanic folklore and the artist’s own travels. Incorporating leaves, pressed flowers and plant-based pigments into his drawings, Beuys physically enacts the interconnectedness he observed between humans and their environments through the very materiality of his work.
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