Screen Drawings (2020), a series of twenty-four monoprints included in 'Intermediaries', eight of which are featured here, is born out of Tara Donovan’s rigorous and methodical exploration of metal screen mesh, a material typically used for windows and doors that—like the straws, tubes, and sheets employed throughout the exhibition—offers a frame that filters and shapes vision and perception. On closer inspection, the mesh’s rigid crosshatch of steel wires is also notable in its grid-like nature, reflecting the artist’s ongoing engagement with the grid as both a framing device and a form to be leveraged and disrupted.

For Donovan—who often uses the constraints and parameters of her materials to her advantage—the drawings became “an exercise to see how many patterns I could pull from the material without it disintegrating and losing its integrity.” The resulting printed grid in each work reveals a pattern obscured and removed from the reference material of the screen and transformed with the artist’s methodical intervention.

Utilizing as much as disturbing the mathematical regularity of the grid, the resultant drawings attune the eye to subtle shifts in pattern, the ambiguity of figure-ground relations, and the instability of form. In contrast to an earlier generation of artists, such as Agnes Martin and Sol LeWitt, who employed the grid to create systematic compositions and distance from the artist’s hand, Donovan’s post-minimalist approach inserts the organic into the mechanical, using the rigidity of the grid as a space of invention and discovery.

Many of the works take on a code-like quality of dots and dashes, calling to mind the weave of textiles and punch cards used in the Jacquard loom, as well as early visualizations of computer coding. The more complex the pattern, the more an optical playfulness emerges, as if movement on the surface of the print might be discerned through close looking.

Using Format