Critics’ Picks

Colter Jacobsen, Down Time with Act Up (London), 2019, graphite on paper, 7 x 8 1/2".

Colter Jacobsen, Down Time with Act Up (London), 2019, graphite on paper, 7 x 8 1/2".


Colter Jacobsen

1A Kempsford Road (off Wincott Street)
April 14–June 5, 2021

Upon entering Colter Jacobsen’s “Fathom,” you are invited to take a pencil in each hand, stand in front of an empty London Records Group album sleeve, close your eyes, raise your arms, and draw two lines where the pencils in your hands hit the wall. A couple of weeks into the run, two thickets had begun to form at the entrance to the gallery. The invitation encourages you to understand drawing as a means to become intimate: with people, places, histories.

Looking at Jacobsen’s art is like eavesdropping on a private conversation between friends. Each work is accompanied by a text, accessed via QR code, explaining its origins. One pencil drawing, the ground (ecotones), 2021, depicts a patch of woodland that Jacobsen’s boyfriend suggested he draw. Then, it contained budding irises; by the time it was drawn, it was disfigured by a fallen oak bough; the natural world is always ahead of the slow time of its observation and reproduction. Many drawings seem to belong to a larger collection: Down Time with Act Up (London), 2019, lavishly recreates in graphite a 1980s photograph of gay activists cozily squeezed into a restaurant booth. Nearby, field recordings (from Alan Lomax’s blank Rolodex), 2019, displays twenty-nine plants drawn on pages from the titular ethnomusicologist’s diary. A number of works, like BEGINBEING (Flora), 2019, and SeeslevelSees, 2021, are word paintings: abstract shapes form the letters of the drawing’s titles as well as colorful patterns. They radiate a quiet joy in turning words into pictures, one world into another.