An experienced, intelligent and accomplished artist, Graeme Cornwell’s large-scale charcoal drawings reveal intimate stories, laden with references to art history, and social and personal commentary on gender politics, romance and love. The artists skill as a life drawer is evident in these exquisitely rendered monochromatic works, augmented by hand written quotes from historical texts. These are the kind of artworks that are no only stunningly beautiful, but are contextually intriguing, offering numerous layers of meaning to the viewer.
This exhibition is sure to get people talking. When asked to sum his work up in a nutshell Cornwell said, “I’m interested in pornography and how there is no aesthetic discussed in pornography, and how art history manipulates images of women. These works are about love letters from artists, and love letters in the form of drawings made by male artists of the women they were in love with.”
Cornwell is a highly regarded artist in both Australia and New Zealand, but as yet his work is not well known in Tauranga. This will be his first solo exhibition since moving here in May this year. Cornwell has an international reputation as a Master Printer in lithography, and his work has been exhibited and collected by numerous public and private art galleries around the world. With an impressive tertiary teaching career in Australia and New Zealand under this belt, Cornwell is currently a Senior Lecturer in Creative Industries at the newly renamed Toi-Ohomai Institute of Technology in Tauranga.
Philosophemes Erotique has been a labour of love for over fifteen years. These works delve into the real and imagined letters and drawings of many historical artist figures. He pays particular attention to Henry Fuseli’s personal correspondence to friends and lovers, Max Ernst’s letters to his lover Meret Oppenhiem, Hans Arp’s drawings, film director Philip Kaufman’s obsessions with morality and love.
“It’s a kind of delusory quest”, Cornwell says, “investigating love letters and drawings of other artists that are sometimes real, often imagined, half written, unread, lost, sent only to go astray, forgotten, stolen, misplaced or dreamt…”