Drawing is most itself when other than itself. The exhibition "Des(enho)" ventures beyond drawing by locating the very act (its gesture) in the context of a larger domain: mark-making, mapping, transposing, translating. This list of verbs is not accidental; the exhibition renders acts, actions, activities, rather than objects. Rodrigo Moura, in his brief curatorial statement paraphrasing Rosalind Krauss, proposes the occurrence of "drawing in the expanded field," a kind of diffusion or invasion of drawing practices into other media. Consequently, the exhibition focuses on works where drawing insists on its own presence—not necessarily as a medium but as a concept, gesture, metaphor.

Territorial expansions are precarious and hazardous undertakings. Take photography, for instance, some decades ago: there was an extraordinary expansion and dispersion of the field that gradually yielded to a kind of disruptive dissolution. Or to put it more candidly: there are limitless answers to the question, "what is drawing?". But will the plethora of possibilities blunt the question, eventually leading towards a conceptual quagmire?

Through a conceptually generous selection of works from five artists, the exhibition offers a series of dialogues with the concept of drawing. Marcius Galan’s Drawing a Line (2011) gives us attentive records—or translations—of the most elementary of drawing acts: the work consists of a sheet of paper, blank except for the visible traces of a repeatedly drawn and erased horizontal line, with all of the eraser rubbings neatly collected (or trapped) at the bottom of the frame. Equally conceptual is his Intersecçao, where two framed drawings of a circle are accompanied by an audio track of the not-so-delicate sound of a pencil travelling across paper. Gabriel Sierra’s Marginalia (2011), a displacement of the floorboards of the gallery, draws new lines with basic architectural elements, neatly altering the exhibition space.

Nicolás Paris also engages in an architectural intervention, creating a geometric dropped ceiling by simply hanging blank A4-sheets of paper with paper clips from a wire net. Indeed, the modernist grid gains presence in a variety of ways throughout "Des(enho)," even when rebelling against it, like in Marilá Dardot’s Mapas series (2011), made of colorful translucent post-it flags that follow the natural chaos of a notice board map. The studio, i.e., drawing as a vocation of the draftsman, is distinctly underlined by Carla Zaccagnini’s performative piece Museu das Vistas (2004-on going), where a police sketch artist is seated at a desk in the gallery making landscape drawings based on the verbal descriptions offered up by visitors.

Translation and transposition turn out to be key modes here, articulated in the exhibition’s keen attention to an expanded vocabulary of drawing. Witness Carla Zaccagnini’s Sala (1999), a frottage of the living room of her apartment in Sao Paulo or Marilá Dardot hand-painted words over glass (Es único! and Inédito)(2011). While Nicolás Paris’s Ejercicios en espera o Ejercicios para el próximo mes de febrero (2011) are lists of written instructions aimed at imagining various acts of drawing ("Throw a spinning top to trace movement," or "Walk in self-made paper socks and then observe our physical imprint on them"), the curator himself has added his own notes in three corners of the gallery: a list of suffixes, a list of negative prefixes of the Portuguese language, and a quote (from Brazilian conceptual artist Cildo Meireles) about the shady nature of drawings and the double meaning of the word desenho in Portuguese that inspired the exhibition’s title.

In "Des(enho)," Moura situates drawing at the surface of the medium, posing an idea of drawing as an experience, as a score, as an event that takes place not in itself but from—outside of—itself; drawing as a way of being but hardly ever a drawing as such. Paraphrasing Meireles’s quote, these drawings have something to do with shadows, the shadows that reveal the enlightened side.