Drawing Biennial 2017: Capturing a world in flux

More than 200 unique works on paper by leading artists are on display at this thought-provoking exhibition, held at London's Drawing Room

Walk into any gallery today and you're just as likely to find artwork on the floor or hanging from the ceiling as on the walls. But even for those who specialise in installation, video or performance, there's a certain pleasure in the immediacy of pen and paper. The Drawing Biennial, held at Drawing Room in London, will present more than 200 new and recent works from leading international artists, showcasing how the medium can be elevated from mere preliminary sketches to a thought-provoking and forward-thinking art form.

All displayed on A4 supports to give each piece equal prominence in the exhibition, the drawings are varied in both their subject matter and artistic style. Today's socially connected and technology-driven world has provided inspiration for such works as Suzanne Treister's Death of the Internet, displaying its title in a simple, graphic form on the page, while others have focused on social media, from how we express ourselves, to chance encounters online.

Politics also plays a significant role across the exhibition, including Nidhal Chamekh's Le Battement des Ailes No. V, which draws on the memories of civil unrest in his home country of Tunisia, and Jonathan Allen's playful commentary on political sloganeering, showing the word "Faith" on a magician's handkerchief held aloft by a pair of hands.

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Perhaps the most enduring form of drawing we see everyday is satirical sketch work, and many artists have chosen to place a focus on the witty, playful and humorous. John Smith uses Donald Trump as the punchline in Funny Old World, a collection of mismatched Christmas cracker jokes and answers. Meanwhile Michael Landy – one of the Young British Artists, best known for his performance installation piece Break Down, in which he destroyed all his possessions – takes a self-deprecating approach for Bin Landy, featuring cartoonish figures peering into a bin and declaring: "Goodness, you're right – it's Michael Landy".

Running until 26 April, the Drawing Biennial will culminate in an online auction in the final two weeks, with proceeds going towards the non-profit Drawing Room gallery and its ongoing programme dedicated to contemporary drawing.

Drawing Biennial 2017 is at the Drawing Room, Unit 8 Rich Estate, 46 Willow Walk, London, SE1 5SF, until 26 April; drawingroom.org.uk

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