Like her paintings, Kim Pieters’ drawings are executed in suites or series, each of which has its own theme, mood or conceptual anchor. Equally important are her colour choices; each discrete grouping of works uses a tightly controlled palette, reflecting the disciplined approach that Pieters brings to her practice. Each grouping of works is a closed system, numbered to reflect their status as elements of a larger structure. There are six separate series represented in this show, and each series consists of 8 works, of which two are retained by the artist for her own archive. This means that the portion of the series that can be seen is always necessarily incomplete; it remains for the viewer to infer the contents of the reserved works from the shared resemblances of the remaining works.
The titles of the series themselves provide some clues as to their nature. Two series of works, readiness and ability, refer to ideas of preparation, training and competence, as though the artist were warming up, exercising creative energies in preparation of other, larger tasks. Another paired series, memory and time and memory and world, reflect a phenomenological approach, an attempt to capture in drawing something of the shifting tides of consciousness itself. Lastly, the hampden and thought crystal series are more opaque, personal references, the former perhaps referring to the small town of Hampden in northern Otago, and the latter to some tongue-in-cheek New Age revelation.
The drawings on display in elements of the set are executed on sheets of watercolour paper, using graphite, oil stick and gouache. They are related to the diagrammatic mark-making strand of Pieters’ practice, as seen in the arbitrary knowledges series of paintings (2013) or there was a project for the sun and is (2014). In these paintings, cryptic shapes and figures float above coloured fields, never quite resolving themselves into representation. These partially-submerged forms convey the feeling of blueprints or microscope slides, cross-sections of complex structures momentarily frozen and preserved in time.
The drawings included in elements of the set function in a similar way: although gestural in nature, they nevertheless seem to obey an underlying structure, lending them a sense of being playful improvisations on a theme. Their forms are semi-biological, hovering in the liminal space between animate and inanimate, but also perhaps between sleep and wakefulness, or between sight and thought. Like phospenes, the shapes that appear when the optic nerve is stimulated by a source other than light (most commonly by pressing or rubbing on the eye), Pieters’ playfully animate shapes refute categorisation.