Drawings to Forget
"Drawings to Forget" was a solo drawing show put on by Paul Peng, a fifth-year BCSA fine arts and computer science student. The show ran in Carnegie Mellon's student gallery, The Frame, for the past two weeks, opening on Sept. 9 and closing on Sunday, Sept. 18. The series of drawings profiles the lives of two fictional protagonists: "Stephen Thundermaw, great-great-grandson of werewolf demigod and pharmaceutics pioneer and entrepreneur Rainbow Jenkins Thundermaw" and "Demyxtro “Demi” Jackson Crystalheart, a dragon-halfling hybrid with traces of water spirit, ex-partner." Peng portrayed these eccentric and fanciful characters in a style that was both cleanly minimal, but also intensely surreal. All beings depicted in his works verged on the domain of pseudo-furry fanfic, and he indulged in both the traditional medium of charcoal drawing and internet based meme culture. This duality allowed him to inscribe these characters with interesting personas. Throughout the drawings the characters oscillated between realistic human traits and fanciful furry personas, raising questions of which is more real or accurate to the being beneath the external traits.
This show worked with the traditional medium of drawing and the traditional format of the white-wall gallery exhibition, and embraced those to their fullest with great success. The minimalist display of these works and the balancing of the composition of light and dark areas within worked with the composition of each square paper on the wall. The works were often intensely chaotic with a single empty area, or intensely barren with a single dark form, allowing for certain details to become hyper aware for the viewer and others to feel like they're being intentionally obfuscated.
All together this show was a unique exploration of millennial internet culture through the lens of traditional, well composed charcoal drawings. The balance between the elegance of Peng's visual style with the wildly eccentric narrative of the works bridges a middle ground that makes the works surprisingly real and telling of the world of those raised on the internet.