Hanne Darboven

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3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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Such is the insularity and obsessiveness of Hanne Darboven's drawing-based practice that it comes as no surprise to learn that the German artist (1941-2009) was a highly influential figure for the nascent strands of both minimal and conceptual art. Or that, save for a two-year spell in New York in the '60s, she spent most of her life working in relative solitude at the family home in Hamburg.

This evocative but rather impenetrable exhibition consists largely of notes, calligraphic scribbles and mathematical sums that relate to other ways of 'reading' the audio/visual languages we normally take for granted. It's rather like a series of intensly personal workings-out that, visually, recall everything from the ration book to the musical composition via the maths exam and the diary.

Each of the many drawings shown, with the exception of a single sheet of mysterious jottings presented on a desk, have been framed and hung to create three large grid-like formations. At certain points, a fortuitous alignment of her linguistic, abstract and numerical forms creates the sense of hovering between empirical and highly speculative means of understanding and experiencing time. But Darboven's reliance on the languages of 'proof' and repetitive-compulsive presentation pulls one back time and again to question the personal point of her opaque processes, beyond acknowledging the abstract formal beauty of data systems. Only the ecclesiastical strains of a score written by the artist and played by an organ successfully underlines her mission to question what one believes at every turn, whether in life or in the gallery – that high church of culture.

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