The fine line between drawing and photography

Two-venue exhibition in London examines the rarely-explored relationship between the two media


Photography literally means “drawing with light”, so it is perhaps surprising that the relationship between drawing and photography is not more regularly explored. Two related, boutique exhibitions at the Photographers’ Gallery in central London and the Drawing Room in Bermondsey have tackled the subject side-on, with a carefully selected group of artists who challenge, stretch and play with the relationship between the two media.

The Photographers’ Gallery is showing 12 artists’ mostly photographic works: from evocative photograms by early Modern masters such as László Moholy-Nagy and Curtis Moffat to works by contemporary artists. The UK artist Richard Forster shows meticulous, abstracted, strange coastal tidelines while the Czech artist Jolana Havelkova shows expressionistic photographs of scored surfaces which turn out to be the marks of skates on ice.

Six artists are on show at the Drawing Room, most of whom use drawing or drawings in combination with other media. Thomas Zummer produces touching images of tiny robots, made with graphite powder and an eraser, which subvert our ideas of traditional portrait photography. Dove Allouche’s dark, mysterious “Spore” series uses lead pencil, silver oxide, ethanol and inks and are based on the patterns of mould growing on old, archived silver gelatin prints. Meanwhile, Tacita Dean shows—for the first time in the UK—Still Life I-VI, images of a set of found drawings from the studio of Giorgio Morandi.

This is a show that considers conceptual and philosophical ideas of representation but also the materiality of the works: the graininess or smoothness of paper, the shimmering, metallic surfaces created by graphite and silver, the beauty of grisaille, the ghostliness of collage and overprinting. Both are gems of exhibitions and truly complementary.

• Double Take, Drawing Room, until 5 June, and at Photographers’ Gallery, London, until 3 July