Jacqui McIntosh has managed exhibitions at Drawing Room since 2011. She was Project Leader and curator of See Think Different, a 3-year collaborative project between Drawing Room and global media company UBM. Previously she worked in the commercial sector and was a Director of Kevin Kavanagh Gallery Dublin. Independently, she has worked as a curator and writer in Ireland and UK. Her writing has appeared in publications such as The Guardian, Irish Examiner, Contemporary and Art Review and in catalogue essays for galleries and artists. She is a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA). This year she joins the Expert Judging Panel for the Jackson’s Open Painting Prize 2018.
Lisa: We’re thrilled that you have accepted our invitation to be on the judging panel for the Jackson’s Open Painting Prize 2018. Nowadays, the definition of what Painting is and what drawing is are often argued about and contested. What are your definitions of what painting and drawing are and how do you think the two are linked?
Jacqui: I see painting and drawing as being inextricably linked, but ultimately it is the artists who define what drawing and painting mean to them. Drawing Room’s programme has always been informed by what happens in the artist’s studio.
Lisa: Drawing Room is the only not for profit space in the UK dedicated to drawing practice. During your time working at the space, what have been your personal exhibition highlights?
Jacqui: I started at Drawing Room in 2011 and have had the pleasure of working on many great exhibitions. Personal highlights include Franz Erhard Walther’s solo show in 2012, his first in the UK, and the 2015 exhibition ‘DE. FI. CIEN. CY’ with Andrzej Wróblewski, René Daniels and Luc Tuymans.
‘Abstract Drawing’, curated by artist Richard Deacon in 2014 was a fabulous show. We exhibited works by Kazimir Malevich and Jackson Pollock alongside contemporary artists such as Sam Messenger, Lothar Götz and Alison Wilding.
One of my personal favourite works from the exhibition was a sketchbook of drawings by Hilma af Klint and her group ‘The Five’, made whilst conducting séances. It was also wonderful to get close to Anni Albers’ delicate pinprick works and the drawings of Eve Hesse. Our current exhibition ‘Everything We Do Is Music’ has been an amazing show to work on. Curated by Shanay Jhaveri, it explores the influence of Indian classical music on a range of modern and contemporary artists.
Some of my favourite works in the exhibition include Francesco Clemente’s Evening Raga series of watercolours, Mohan Samant’s vibrant depictions of musicians, the mystical internal landscapes of painter Lee Mullican from the 1960’s and Shahzia Sikander’s animated film Disruption as Rapture. It’s great to work on exhibitions that not only take a grand sweep through history, introducing us to many artists and works, but that also challenge our assumptions of what drawing can be.
Lisa: What qualities does a painting have to possess in order to excite you?
Jacqui: I know when I see it, but it is hard to define. Sometimes it takes time for a work to reveal itself, but there is often something that draws you in and makes you linger beyond that initial first glance. It might be hard to tell immediately what is happening or how the work has been constructed. A good painting can appeal to so many people, often for unknown reasons.
Lisa: How important do you think prizes and awards are to artists in today’s artistic world?
Jacqui: They are vital. It can be hard to get people to your studio, to get your work into exhibitions. Sometimes the routes to getting your work out there can seem mysterious. Prizes and awards provide opportunities for artists to get their work seen, to expand networks and can give a real boost to confidence. I have great respect for the John Moores Painting Prize and the integrity of the Marmite Prize for Painting. The quality of art prizes can vary enormously, but both John Moores and Marmite have a real commitment to painting.
As a judge for Jackson’s Open Painting Prize 2018, I’m really looking forward to seeing all of the works with an open mind.
Lisa: What have been your own exhibition highlights of 2017 (outside of Drawing Room)
Jacqui: Daniel Richter’s Lonely Old Slogans at Camden Arts Centre was an incredible show that I still think about. I also really enjoyed seeing Frank Bowling’s paintings from the early 1970s both in Soul of a Nation at Tate Modern and IMPULSE at Pace London. London based painter Nick Goss created stunning works for his exhibition De Ramp at Josh Lilley gallery. I’m really looking forward to seeing Rose Wylie’s solo show at the Serpentine as well as Michael Armitage’s new paintings for South London Gallery. This year I also co-curated (with artist Marcus Cope) the exhibition Figure It Out at Tannery Projects, which focused on the preparatory works made by five artists – Nick Goss, Georgia Hayes, Kate Lyddon, Jacob Kerray and Jessie Makinson – as part of the development of their paintings.
Lisa: What will you be looking for when you have your JOPP 2018 judging hat on?
Jacqui: That’s a secret.
Lisa: What plans are in store for Drawing Room in 2018?
Jacqui: We have another busy and exciting year ahead of us. Exhibitions for 2018 include a solo show of new work by London based artist Donna Huddleston and Slice through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings, a two-venue exhibition with Modern Art Oxford. The exhibition will explore how artists use drawing to react to contemporary conditions, as well as the histories – social, economic, environmental and cultural – that have shaped today’s global politics. Alongside our exhibitions we’ll also be continuing our programme of lectures, workshops and music events in the gallery and our Outset Study library.
Header Image: ‘Musicians’ by Mohan Samant, Watercolour on paper, 55.9 x 76.2 cm, 1999
©The Estate of Mohan Samant, Courtesy Abraham Joel