Johanna Calle’s Abece “K” (2011) is part of a series of drawings (compiled into an artist book called Abece) based on the alphabet. There is a drawing for each letter, in which the letter is repeated over and again in various directions and scales, thereby demonstrating how a symbol can be reoriented without changing its linguistic meaning. Here, the letter K is outlined and surrounded by a dense and varied field of other Ks.
Calle’s drawings all inhabit received forms but alter them to call attention to specific qualities. A newspaper is both reproduced and modified to call attention to the newspaper as a means of information transmission. This also emphasizes the effect of various seemingly unimportant support mechanisms: the role of visual layout and images. In other drawings Calle explores systems: the unfurling of suburban streets, resembling text and the veins on a leaf.
Johanna Calle’s drawings use pre-existing systems to explore issues of built space, cultural identity, and language. Her work often departs from common lines of handwriting, altering them with energy and pattern. The practice of drawing is considered expansively in Calle’s work, as she inserts stitching, metal, and even, returning to her background as a painter, the covering capacity of paint.