Recent Articles
Jim Hodges describes his new Artspace edition
Meet the Artist
Jim Hodges describes his new Phaidon/ Artspace edition and the processes by which his work unfolds
Helen Thompson – The Art For Home Interview
Living With Art
Helen Thompson – The Art For Home Interview
Serge Hamad on his photography
Meet the Artist
Serge Hamad - 'I always felt that I could speak out in a deeper sense when using photography'
What's in Kimberley's Cart?
Expert Eye
"What I'd Buy This September '21": Artspace's Kimberly Reinagel Shares the Artworks in Her Cart
James Crump – The Art for Home Interview
On the Wall
James Crump – The Art for Home Interview
John Folchi talks about his art
Meet the Artist
John Folchi – 'Among my earliest childhood memories is one of an aesthetic response to the beauty of clouds’
Sandra Platas Hernández on life and art
Meet the Artist
Sandra Platas Hernández - 'I find the beauty in every little thing that surrounds me'
Putnam & Putnam Unveil Limited Edition Floral Prints
On the Wall
Putnam & Putnam Unveil Limited Edition Floral Prints
S.K.Sahni on his art
Meet the Artist
S.K.Sahni – 'An artist creates work first for himself but sharing it with others to awaken their inner self is equally important'
Drew Doggett on his art and photography
Meet the Artist
Drew Doggett – 'I select subjects that are extraordinary to share the world’s beauty'
Orit Fuchs on her art
Meet the Artist
Orit Fuchs – ‘I come to the studio six days a week - and start dreaming!'
Alberto González Vivo talks about his art
Meet the Artist
Alberto González Vivo – 'I think if the work has the desired effect on me, it will have that effect on others'
5 things to look out for in the Celeste Dupuy-Spencer edition
Close Look
5 things to look out for in the Celeste Dupuy-Spencer edition
Lindsay August-Salazar on her inspirations, influences and ideals
Meet the Artist
Lindsay August-Salazar – “Art has the capacity to expand my deeper drive and interest in human expression'
Colleen Blackard - 'I want to build worlds to share'
Artist to Watch
Colleen Blackard - 'From an early age I found it easier to communicate with gestures and pictures than with words'

Meet the Artist

Kyle Thurman - Why I Draw

By

Kyle Thurman - Why I Draw
Kyle Thurman

When Pennsylvania-born, Brooklyn-based Kyle Thurman was an adolescent, he was advised to consider a career as a soldier or an athlete. These occupations have informed a substantial ongoing series of work, Suggested Occupation, that started at the end of 2015 with the artist making drawings in response to images of soldiers and athletes in newspapers. This almost daily drawing practice offers a reminder of the very different lives he could be leading.

In Suggested Occupation 13 (2016–18) Thurman depicts a young man wearing a bullet-proof-vest and combat trousers, seated and asleep, his hands clasped on his lap. Another figure to one side is awake, reading or looking at something in his hands, just out of sight. They might be on their way back from a military exercise or sortie. The perhaps surprising choice of a bubble-gum pink paper enhances the tenderness of the image depicted – plus nobody looks tough when they’re asleep.

This is precisely where Thurman’s critical thinking becomes evident – by extracting imagery of male figures from the original contexts in which they appear, he takes control of the narrative and sets his own scene for their redepiction and reinterpretation. How the media presents images of men, and how consumers respond to them, plays a significant role in how patriarchal and heterosexual paradigms are created, maintained or changed, and Thurman’s works, in an understated though thoughtfully conceived and executed way, unpick these male stereotypes and archetypes.

Suggested Occupation 22 (2018), for example, depicts what might be soccer players after scoring a goal – their triumphant cries are almost tribal in their masculinity, yet the hand of one man on the chest of the other, allied to the gentle clasping of the two men’s hands, could be interpreted as being decidedly homoerotic. Thurman’s drawing reinforces that these two states are not mutually exclusive.

The uncertainty of the dynamics in his drawings leave them open-ended, unresolvable. Often seemingly ‘unfinished’ in the sense that they appear like sketches, with some sections shaded or colored with pencils, pastels or markers, Thurman’s drawings capture, often at close to life-size, fleeting moments of male interaction that challenge normative ideas of masculinity.

Thurman is one of over a hundred contemporary artists featured in Vitamin D3: Today's Best in Contemporary Drawing, Phaidon's new, indispensable survey of contemporary drawing. We sat him down and asked him a few questions about how, why and when he draws.

Suggested Occupation 13, 2016–18, charcoal, colored pencil, marker and pastel on seamless paper in artist’s frame, 114.3 × 86.7 × 4.5 cm (45 × 34  × 1 ¾ in)

Who are you and what’s on your mind right now? My name is Kyle Thurman. I’m an artist who is based mostly in New York City. I’ve recently been thinking a lot about teaching and schools. What can art be in an academic setting? Are our current institutional structures the best way to share histories of artistic production? I’m a new teacher, I recently taught a graduate level Drawing Seminar - so these are urgent questions to deconstruct and reimagine during such uncertain times. I’m also thinking a lot about crowds, Morandi, choreography - and about riding my bike almost across the country to see a friend that I miss.

What’s your special relationship with drawing and how would you describe what you do? Drawing is another form of writing for me. At certain times, I draw as a way to take notes in order to remember things. Other times, I use drawing to draft longer stories.

Installation view, ‘Whitney Biennial 2019,’ Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Photo: Joerg Lohse

Why is there an increased interest in drawing right now? I’m not sure that I have a good answer for this. All art should be under constant reassessment. The visibility of certain mediums always seems to be cyclical. Drawing, along with watching movies, was always my entry point into developing an artistic practice ever since I was very young.

What are the hardest things for you to get ‘right’? I tend to resist the notion that there is a ‘right’ way to do these things. That doesn’t make it any easier to make a good drawing though.

Is the immediacy of drawing part of its appeal for you? I think of my drawings as records - records of time, records of marks, records of colors, records of events. Drawing can be both fast and slow, a way to digest an experience of the world. My drawings are simultaneously built and taken apart each time I work on them. There is no plan. Eventually they arrive at a place where nothing else needs to happen and then they enter their frame. At that point, they are both part of an archive specific to my practice and autonomous objects in the world.

Installation view, ‘Whitney Biennial 2019,’ Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Photo: Joerg Lohse

Can you explain the difference between drawing as a child, something we can all relate to, and drawing as an artist - something most of us cannot? Beyond knowing when to stop, along with certain skills or knowledge of materials acquired with age and research, I would say it’s mostly a matter of context.

What do most people overlook when they attempt to ‘assess’ drawing? I cannot speak for another person’s experience of an artwork. For myself, like any song worth listening to on repeat - or any great movie or book or building - a successful piece of art can be experienced over and over. Each time I return to a great piece of art I learn something new from it, or it asks me a new question.

Untitled (2014) by Kyle Thurman

When do you draw and what sort of physical, spiritual, mental or geographical place do you have to be in generally for it to work? At this point, drawing is just part of my daily life. It’s become vital for my survival as both a person and an artist. Certainly my mood and place can affect what happens on the paper. When I’m in my studio there is access to a vaster set of materials, but I don’t think about drawing any differently when I’m not in my studio. 

Vitamin D3

 You can see more of Kyle Thurman’s work on his website, his Instagram @kyle_thurman_  and at his galleries, David Lewis, Sophie Tappeiner, and Central Fine. Meanwhile, Vitamin D3: Today's Best in Contemporary Drawing, featuring over 100 artists including: Tania Kovats, Rashid Johnson, Rebecca Salter, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Deanna Petherbridge, Christina Quarles, and Emma Talbot is available now in the store. We'll be running more interviews with artists featured in the book in the coming weeks.

 

[Thurman-module]

DISCOVER

a treasure trove of fine art from the world's most renowned artists, galleries, museums and cultural institutions. We offer exclusive works you can't find anywhere else.

LEARN

through exclusive content featuring art news, collecting guides, and interviews with artists, dealers, collectors, curators and influencers.

BUY

authentic artworks from across the globe. Collecting with us means you're helping to sustain creative culture and supporting organizations that are making the world a better place.

CONNECT

with our art advisors for buying advice or to help you find the art that's perfect for you. We have the resources to find works that suit your needs.

INSIDER ACCESS TO THE WORLD'S BEST ART

Artspace offers you authentic, exclusive works from world-renowned artists, galleries, museums and cultural institutions. Collecting with us helps support creative culture while bringing you art news, interviews and access to global art resources.

  • COLLECT FROM 300+ GALLERIES & MUSEUMS