"Communication, the breakdown of communication, and isolation" are the core themes of Do I Have to Draw You a Picture?, a new show at Heong Gallery in Cambridge. Among the very-starry-indeed lineup for the show are Ed Ruscha, Grayson Perry, Jenny Holzer, Jasper Johns, Louise Bourgeois and so many more; while featured works come in the guises of contemporary American and British prints from the British Museum, and works from private lenders, including prints, postcards, books, diagrammatic drawing, sign painting, tape recording, neon, LED, enamel plaques, bunting and campaign posters.
The central idea is based around the notion that since electronic media has become (for most) the primary mode of communication, artists are "no longer required for the transmission of objective content," says the gallery. As such, the artists and works featured in this show all examine communication, and the media through which we communicate – its limitations and the role of art in speaking to one another across psychological, cultural, or geographical distances.
Some of the works are more obvious in these explorations than others. Bob and Roberta Smith’s open Letter to Michael Gove (2015) and Wolfgang Tillmans' pro-EU posters (2016) are direct epistolary missives; while He disappeared into complete silence (1947-2005) by Louise Bourgeois shows how communication is frequently born of far more intimate origins – the works are all "parables of personal relationships", as the gallery puts it.
Whatever the medium or the message, what the show does prove is that art is still as much a potent, transcendent tool for communication as ever – internet or no, these works speak loud and clear.
Do I Have to Draw You a Picture? runs from 16 June-7 October 2018 at The Heong Gallery, Cambridge. Find out more at dow.cam.ac.uk.