Fugue not photocopy
Three new prints in the Brighton Art Fair show.
I'm now back in the studio, to the quiet but encouraging feeling that the work knows where it wants to go next. These new prints combine two widely divergent printmaking techniques : engraving and viscosity monoprinting.
Engraving and drypoint
- Linear - a singular, sharp, trace that can only record direction and weight.
- Concerned with the geometry of position - angles, bearings, splines, longitude, axes. The naming of parts.
- Direct and committed - a engraved lines are just about impossible to correct. Drypoint lines are made once and then left alone.
- Tonal - a spreading, edgeless field that can only record inclusion and density.
- Concerned with flux, the flow of light between things. The naming of connections.
- Direct and conversational - a tonal mark can be remade as many times as needed.
I always had a problem with the idea of editions. Editions suit galleries and A list artists just fine because they can use them to control the market. There is something faintly absurd about endeavouring to make a big series of indistinguishable intaglio prints since the invention of the photocopier. It was accessibility, handle - ability and the democratic nature of prints on paper that inspired all the really good people - Blake, Hogarth, Goya. Every National collection has a full set of Goya's prints. None of them are numbered and hardly any are signed. How many did the dear old chap get time to print ? We now have far easier and cheaper ways of making reproductions, which was never the interesting bit of printmaking. This new combination of monoprinting with engraving is like doing a painting by other means. I can't wait to get started. Playing fugue form - contrapuntal improvisations between the hard linear engraving and soft tonal monoprinting.
I'm about the start a run of new Changeling prints, and during the long period of head scratching before the Brighton Show I developed a thought experiment about painting which helps me be calm and collected as I start work. This started when I was working with Bill Brody in Skye - we talked about the most basic assumptions you have to make to use drawing and painting materials. It has to do with questioning assumptions by asking really obvious questions while trying to avoid giving obvious answers :
Painting thought experiment
- Light will advance. Dark will retreat.
- Warm will advance. Cool will retreat.
- A colour field can be established by what it is (it's colour) or by what it is against (contrast).
Drawing thought experiment
- A moment cannot be drawn. A drawing has to be an assembling of fragments on top of each other,
- A tonal drawing cannot be made without an imaginary light source (traditionally top LH side for RH artists).
- Caravaggio and Bacon both claimed/had claimed about them that they didn't draw.
Anyway enough of that, time to get some paint under my nails.