Roni Horn: When I Breathe, I Draw, Part I & II : The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas, USA

15 February - 5 May 2019 

The Menil Collection proudly presents Roni Horn: When I Breathe, I Draw, opening to the public at the Menil Drawing Institute with a preview reception on Thursday, February 14, 2019 at 7 p.m. This is the first museum exhibition devoted to Horn’s drawings in the United States and the second exhibition held in the Menil Drawing Institute since the new building opened to critically-acclaimed reviews last fall. The exhibition is curated by Michelle White, Senior Curator.


For over thirty years, drawing has been fundamental to the practice of contemporary American artist Roni Horn (b. 1955), whose work revolves around the mutability of identity and the fragility of place, time, and language. Roni Horn: When I Breathe, I Draw, an exhibition in two parts, presents a selected survey of the artist’s drawings from the early 1980s to her most recent work on paper. The exhibition explores Horn’s unique technical approach of mark-making with dense hues of pure pigment and dynamic process of cutting and reassembling images and language.


The exhibition’s title, When I Breathe, I Draw, evokes the integral place of drawing within Horn’s artistic practice. It is derived from the artist’s understanding that drawing is akin to “a kind of breathing activity on a daily level.”


The first part of the exhibition, on view through May 5, will feature Horn’s encompassing drawings, some over ten feet tall. Undulating ribbons and strips and splinters of saturated, rich, intense color swell, swirl, crystallize, and dissipate within the frame. The dynamic pigment forms are matched by the artist’s intricate passages of jotted notes in graphite. Marking time and consciousness, the personal notations maintain the intimacy of a whisper, pushing and pulling the viewer into and out of the large work.


Part two brings a selection of saturated cadmium red pigment drawings, and an extensive group of cut photography, text, and maps, series of drawing that exemplify Horn’s innovative technique of cutting as a way of drawing. In these works, the artist dismantles and reassembles accumulations of sliced and fragmented passages from well-known texts by Gertrude Stein and William Shakespeare.


Said Senior Curator Michelle White, “For Roni Horn, drawing is not static. It is a process: a way of thinking, a way of being, and a way of remembering her experience of place in and through the world. Her approach to the discipline is an allegory of discovery and invention. It is intuitive, improvisational, intimate, and so fundamental and necessary to her that she compares it to the life-sustaining act of breathing.”