Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Ida Applebroog - Mercy Hospital

Ida Applebroog, Mercy Hospital, at Hauser and Wirth, Saville Row, London.

This collection of drawings was executed during a period of intense introspection in 1969 and 1970. Discovered in Applebroog's studio, they are now considered to anticipate the artist's painting and drawing practice that brought her notoriety in New York

Applebroog was struggling with her mental heath and became increasingly withdrawn from the world. The drawings helped negotiate her return. 'The Mercy Hospital drawings allowed her to draw herself back to life, back to herself, leading from catastrophic breakdown to a creative, personal and political breakthrough'. (Jo Applin). This body of work consequently serves as a record of the visual vocabulary of psychological crisis, but it also belongs to the long history of art created at a moment of 'breakthrough', a period very often linked with creative breakthrough.

The drawings combine black india ink, pencil, watercolour and pastel. Some are figurative, featuring the naked body or limbs, whist others are more abstract. Throughout the drawings, a recognisable framework of motifs and forms develops: amorphous shapes interlock or tumble together, while embryonic beings and bulbous figures are protected (or restricted) by enveloping, rippling layers of matter. Many are annotated with questions, pleas and statements that load the works with additional readings, hinting at the artist's fragile state of mind.

Apologies for the quality of the photographs, but it's so difficult with reflection on the glass.

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