By Yasmijn Jarram

David Haines makes videos and large, hyper-realistic pencil drawings on paper. Obscure internet illustrations form the basis of these compositions, which feature young men in mysterious, inauspicious situations. Recurrent themes include mass media, (homo) culture among young people in northern England and cruelty. Everyday environments, replete with modern logos and brand names, are combined with elements from centuries-old folklore and legends. This gives the drawings a strange form of stratification. For instance, Osiris could refer to the skates with the same brand name, but also to the Egyptian god of death.

With his sceptical symbols and references to days long gone, Haines is searching for what is known as ‘pre-photo realism’. This should confirm drawing as the archetype of human expression, especially in the current digital age. The remains of chewing gum, blood, saliva and swatted mosquitos are often in evidence on the drawing paper. While drawings are generally regarded as more fleeting and less satisfying than paintings, the intensity of Haines’ drawings makes them appear monumental and beseeching.