October – November, 2014
Drawing is an integral part of my artmaking practice. I draw every day. Usually, everything I do starts with drawing, as if my life depends on it. I imagine a day when I will only able to communicate to the outside world through mark making. In my past exhibitions, the drawing aspect of my work has been downplayed and pushed to the back. For _low_hanging_fruit, I wanted to make it front and center. I had no overlying, thematic agenda for this exhibition except to make the show an extension of my headspace when I’m in the studio. I made a conscious decision to not self-edit and to work totally in the moment. Themes are very fluid, and they clash and weave in and out of the black hole of my subconscious.
Recently, I traveled to China and picked up some Sumi ink and brushes. When I returned to my studio, I started using them immediately. I was less interested learning traditional Chinese calligraphy, but more in the handling of the brush and ink. I found the process liberating and the materials fluid, unruly and messier than I had been accustomed to in the past. For this exhibition I’ve worked exclusively with Sumi ink, chinese brushes and bamboo paper.
_low_hanging_fruit will feature hundreds of drawings and an abstract sumi ink and bamboo paper sculpture. The economy is high contrast, utilizing only black and white. All color has been drained out. The imagery and language will be presented out of context, unhinged and unedited. I will also include three portfolios (Bug Party, Olso and War) which have been edited for narrative pleasure. Works will only be sold in pairs or groups so the consumer can collaborate to create their own pairings. In doing this, I am allowing myself to collaborate with the viewer to make their own conclusions and form narrative if they see fit.
Bill Thelen (b. 1966, Milwaukee) is an artist, curator and educator. He currently lives and works in Raleigh, NC. Thelen holds degrees from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (BFA) and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (MFA). His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, including Cell Projects in London, UK, Galeria Zé dos Bois, Lisbon, Portugal, Thread Waxing Space, Plus Ultra Gallery, Guild and Greyshkul, Cinders Gallery and Exit Art in New York City, NY, Vox Populi and Space 1026 in Philadelphia, PA, New Image Art in Los Angeles, CA, Monique Meloche Gallery, Western Exhibitions, and Heaven Gallery in Chicago,IL, The Green Gallery in Milwaukee, WI, SECCA in Winston-Salem, The Weatherspoon Art Museum and Greenhill Center for the Arts in Greensboro, Branch Gallery in Durham and Lump and Rebus Works in Raleigh, NC among others. His work has be reviewed in the NY Times, Art Papers, TimeOut London, Sculpture Magazine, The News & Observer, The Independent and many online journals and blogs. He is also the director/cofounder of Lump, an artist-run project space located in Raleigh since 1996.