Schaulager is showing the entire Drawing Restraint Archive for the first time in public. The archive is the point of departure for an exhibition with a significantly broader scope, including additional loans and artworks from the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries: Matthew Barney’s works have been placed in dialogue with paintings, prints and drawings by Martin Schongauer, Albrecht Dürer, Hans Baldung Grien, Lucas Cranach the elder and many others.
Born in 1967, Matthew Barney is one of the most versatile artists of his generation. In all their various manifestations his works are linked by the desire to
lend inner states a binding form. Barney describes his multi-part series as “meditations on the creative process”.
Begun in 1988, Drawing Restraint is a series of performances, numbering sixteen to date. The initial conditions for the artistic actions involve Matthew Barney attempting to make graphic marks despite self-imposed physical and psychological hindrances. The precisely choreographed performances revolve around issues such as exertion, overcoming obstacles, rise and fall, and experimentation with the body and its limits. As the series has developed, the performances have become increasingly sophisticated and the narrative more allegorical. Every action has been documented on video or film.
The Drawing Restraint Archive includes sculptures, vitrines, videos and drawings – so called “secondary forms” which emphasise particular aspects of the actions. The objects are never incidental; they are carefully chosen, produced and arranged. The archive is being presented alongside four monumental sculptures by Matthew Barney. These are contrasted with selected northern renaissance paintings and works on paper containing Christian imagery.
The dialogue between the old masters and Matthew Barney’s works brings two traditions together, their iconography and belief systems separated by half a millennium. The intention is not, however, to draw parallels between religious and secular visual traditions. Rather, the arrangement is an attempt to bring out latent meaning in Matthew Barney’s work. The exhibition is exclusive to Schaulager and will not be touring. It includes two brand new works by Matthew Barney, shown for the first time in public: Drawing Restraint 17 and Drawing Restraint 18, both created in May 2010 at Schaulager.