“If you were to ask me what I do,” wrote Roni Horn in 2003, “I would say I draw. All my work has this in common, regardless of
idiom or material.” Else 7 is an example of the artist’s more recent drawings, which began to explore the sculptural potential of drawings on a grand scale at the beginning of the 1990s. Testament to the importance of drawing to her oeuvre as a whole, many of these large-scale drawings were included in her solo survey show Roni Horn aka Roni Horn, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2009, which toured to the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston, the Collection Lambert in Avignon and the Tate Modern, and have been the subject of solo shows at Hauser + Wirth in recent years.
At over six foot in both height and width, Horn’s larger drawings such as Else 7 have an experimental energy and a bold sense of
scale. The drawings are derived from a lengthy, complex process that begins with a group of separate drawings of charcoal and loose pigment on paper, called “plates.” These are then cut into separate parts and pinned against Horn’s studio wall, where they are arranged and reconfigured until a new composition emerges. Often made from hundreds of separate pieces, there are no overlaps or
gaps when they unite. Strong new shapes emerge from this state of fragmentation, giving the drawing two centers that bring focus, but
evade definition. Against a white background that looks as though it has been shattered like glass, clear, independent brown lines spiral around each other to form two interlinking, but individual shapes. As the artist works, she disperses light pencil marks throughout the work like an annotation of the process. They are another thread of continuity, which, along with the pigment and materials, bind the progressively altered states of the separate drawings together. As Briony Fer has written in the catalogue to Roni Horn aka Roni
Horn, Horn’s work can be seen as “complete with missing parts,” capturing “the sense of a total object that is all absorbing yet at
the same time intractable in some way and, therefore, always incomplete. This refusal to deliver everything easily or quickly forces us to slow down and reflect: to hold on to that tenuous hold.” (B. Fer, quoted at http://www.hauserwirth.com/exhibitions/1412/ronihorn-
The paradoxes that emerge from this drawing reflect Horn’s ongoing interest in how situations of fragmentation and cohesion can be represented through art. She explores this not only through the innovative use of her materials, but through the process of making itself. Parts of Else 7 would have been made quickly, while other sections would have resulted from a more convoluted, protracted process. This added complexity adds depth to the drawing when looking at it, as some of the difference in the intensity of Horn’s concentration on the different areas is conveyed through the worked surfaces themselves. “The drawings are a matter of the myriad and unaccountable influences of just being in a place. Perhaps it’s a “form of memory,” the artist has said (R. Horn, quoted at http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/roni-horn-aka-roni-horn/roni-horn-aka-roni-horn-exploreexhibition-4). In this way, Else 7 encapsulates the directness of a drawing as well as the process of painting or sculpting, which is traditionally a longer, more in-depth process. Uniting the mediums like this is an innovative way of reflecting the artist’s different energies as she worked to create this highly unique drawing.