Now showing 1913 Armory Show Revisited: the Artists and their Prints!
Now showing 1913 Armory Show Revisited: the Artists and their Prints!
New Prints 2007/Winter
Essay by Paul Laster
When we sat down to view work for the New Prints 2007/Winter show, most of the Selections Committee barely knew one another, but we quickly formed a consensus on what we wanted to exhibit. We wanted an inclusive exhibition of abstract and figurative prints, as well as work that was political. As we began viewing nearly a dozen carrousels of slides, the show started to reveal itself in a natural way. It quickly became apparent that there was a lot of strong work by known and unknown artists to fit our criteria. Submitted by artists and publishers, the work we first saw on the screen has come together to construct a compelling overview of printmaking at this moment.
True to the nature of what we generally see in galleries nowadays, most of the work we selected is figurative or representational. One of the first artists to be chosen was Kota Ezawa, whose Earth From Moon etching ended up gracing the invitation card. Known for his animated films and photographs that reference art history and pop media subjects such as the O.J. Simpson trial, Ezawa's color aquatint etchings offer a softer, meditative version of his hard-edged work. Most surprising is a 2006 self-portrait that captures the artist with minimal means. Robert Creighton also quotes from art history with a playful interpretation of Olympia that mixes etching, aquatint, and chine collé.
Ghada Amer manipulates another pop subject, Wonder Woman, overlaying cartoon images of the lasso-wielding vixen above the repeated imagery of a man and woman making love. A lithograph with hand sewn elements, this Landfall Press print gets under your skin. Equally sensual, though with a nod towards the gentleman, Talia Greene’s whimsical Infestation series portray free-floating beards made from arrangements of small dead insects. Apparently constructed on a scanner, Greene’s self-published pigment prints make clever use of digital media. Klaus Burgel mixes technology and nature in Beach, where silkscreen geodesic structures overwhelm a tranquil group of bathers. The uncanniest use of digital media is Ross Racine’s computer drawings of aerial views of imaginary suburban communities. These renderings of houses, landscaping, roadways, and pools are magical.
Utilizing photography as a point of departure, Isca Greenfield-Sanders manipulates old family snapshots by selectively adding bits of bright color to construct a painterly view of the past. Valerie McEvoy uses photogravure and etching with chine collé to turn her distant relatives into a keepsake by placing them on an antique hand mirror that seemingly reflects the past into the present. Lothar Osterburg transforms a photograph of ruins into a fading memory of the Lost City of Ho'okipa. Nicholas Brown’s Underbrush 11 also began as a photograph of dense foliage in the forest. The artist transferred the photographic imagery to a linoleum block and printed a network of marks that delight the eye and unleash a narrative of darkness lurking beneath the surface. Related in a photographic sense, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, is Mary Temple’s Light Describing a Room in Four Parts (I-IV). The shadow of plants in a window is poetically portrayed in four areas of different monochromatic rooms.
Light and shadow in a natural setting is the subject of Anita Hunt’s Reflections VI, a self-published, black-and-white drypoint depicting trees, sticks, and grasses mirrored in a lake. Rising from a wooded bayou, a young girl holds a candle in Serena Perrone’s The Origin of Self-Sacrifice. A large, three-panel woodcut with silverpoint and goldpoint on mylar, this allegorical work implies a dark narrative.
More fairy-tale-like is Dasha Shishkin’s etching Sausage Princess Dies and What it means for the Folks. Camels, donkeys, kangaroos, a choir, and a tightly packed crowd of revelers are delicately constructed from countless crosshatch lines. Meejin Hong’s Doppelganger is a mythic character that’s also constructed of numerous lines that resemble hair. Morphing between a man and a beast, Hong’s double is not someone you would want to meet on a desolate street. Nicolas Conbere’s intaglio Take the Short Cut uses drawing to form a comical, overlapping urban sprawl dissected by ladders and pathways.
Three artists are represented by book works. Kiki Smith illustrates poems by Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge with faint traces of owls, flowers, stars, leaves, and buildings. Maho Kino self-published an accordion book about a cartoon character called Mr. Peanut. And Elizabeth Blomster made a simple, elegant book by rubbing red gouache on paper over a string. Blomster also contributes another process piece, an untitled abstract screenprint over water-soluble crayon that looks like puffy clouds in a blue sky.
Delving further into abstraction, Joanne Greenbaum turns a doodle into an etching that unfolds like one’s thought process. John Himmelfarb creates a grid of subtle marks and muted colors in Campestral. Karen Kunc uses woodcut and etching to make a dreamy abstract world in her scrolling Watery Realm. Linn Meyers draws continual red squiggly lines that never seem to touch in an untitled etching. Barbara Robertson mixes an inkjet background with hand-drawn forms in Scroll. Carl Fudge digitally manipulates camouflage into a circuit board of various silkscreen shapes and colors. And Heidi Neilson constructs a grid of black, white, and gray rectangles that resemble law books on shelves for Miranda Rights Verso (Futura bold condensed 48pt).
Taking social rights to a political level, Daniel Heyman’s Disco Mosul shows a dismembered Iraqi man describing his torture at Abu Ghraib by American captors. Heyman scratched the former detainee’s words directly into the drypoint plate, giving a visually powerful voice to the victim. Klara Glosova uses solar plate etching to transfer her notebook drawings such as Assassins, which depicts armed, hooded men opposite a human target. Mona Hatoum’s Projection presents an expanded map of the world made from white cotton that’s been couched onto abaca. Even though the world is made up of many different kinds of people, some powers that be may only see it as white. Enrique Chagoya’s lithograph The Pastoral or Arcadian State: Illegal Aliens Guide to America is an allegorical mix of costumed immigrants expressing themselves through thought balloons. For example, a masked, ten-gallon-hat wearing Humpty-Dumpty contemplates “An Infinity of Interpretations Leading to None.” Robert T. Pannell’s woodcut After the Flood hints at the devastation and abandonment related to Hurricane Katrina with a cutout, bloated body lying near to the ground in the gallery. Polly Apfelbaum’s shaped screenprint images—Flags of Revolt and Defiance—smartly reference international revolutionary and activist groups. The Eureka Stockade flag recalls immigrants’ oppression during an 1850s gold rush in Australia; The Rainbow Flag expresses Gay pride; and Buck Fush is Apfelbaum's own opposition to the current U.S. administration.
Other works in the show take the viewer back to the imaginary. John Jacobsmeyer’s wood engraving of a wide-eyed zombie in Moon Eyes Moonrise resembles a comical view through a sci-fi telescope. Carrie Scanga's Stick Cave, which features a cut-up etching of a forest retreat floating over a romantically entangled damsel and beast, mixes freehand drawing with print media. Yuji Hiratsuka’s colorful Hula Move recalls 17th-century Ukiyo-e. Max Liboriron’s Experiments with plants B, which combines collograph and drypoint, shows a faceless crowd up in arms over their drooping crops, while Danielle Rante creates A Vacation for the Trees in her wispy cut-paper monotype. Hester Stinnett deconstructs a school yearbook in her black-and white woodcut and silkscreen monoprint. And finally, William Skerritt, who took up printmaking as a second career and showed his work in New York for the first time at IPCNY in 2004, offers Thrust Block, a dream-like interpretation of an urban-street-turned-funky-town.
Paul Laster, Editor, Artkrush
February 20, 2007
Members of the New Prints 2007/Winter Selections Committee were: Amy Cutler, artist; Luther Davis, Master Printer, Axelle Fine Arts; Paul Laster, Editor, ArtKrush; Mary Ellen Oldenburg, art historian and collector; Robert Rainwater, Independent Curator; Mary Ryan, Director, Mary Ryan Gallery.