Alexander Kennedy, 'Drawing' (The List, 05/10/2006)

Drawing Make Me Down a Pallet on Your Floor

There is something so obvious (a reactionary might say philistine) about treating everything with the same level of attention and/or contempt. The ‘high’ and the ‘low’ have been so expertly conflated in the best art and in the worst visual studies theory that we are now well aware that both comic strips and paintings by Manet solicit the same level of concentration and reflection. Actually this is a lie – comic strips win every time, and the hyper-realist pop drawings of Karl Haendel indubitably demonstrate this. It’s a struggle not to fall for it, but struggle we must. This exhibition of Haendel’s drawings (exhibited in a wry take on the salon’s bargain basement selling solution, where all the space available is occupied) adds very little to the trite debate that drags everything into the signifying chain of Capitalism. Re-appropriated words and images vie for space with smart loose marks and abstract forms – all monotonously and perfectly rendered in graphite. The problems begin when you stop to examine or ‘like’ one of these drawings:you have only found what you have put there. The work and the artist, it seems, remain indifferent and inconsequential. What are we to think? The artist (as savant) demonstrates great skill but possibly not very much talent? Haendel copies many styles by utilizing the same meticulous approach: that of the observer who takes in everything and spits out pseudo-hip junk. Is this the artist as cool Warholian machine? Should someone pull the plug?