Tuesday 20 January 2015

Time with Chuck

Prints, Process and Collaboration.

I realised soon after entering the exhibition space that I really had no idea of the scale of these portraits. Reading dimensions of an artwork just doesn't give you any idea of the experience when dwarfed by these amazing portraits. 

To give you an idea of scale...

Although photography was allowed, I only had my iPhone so I'm directing you to the MCA website with excellent images so please enjoy them there. Over 200 works are shown in the exhibition and they do live up to the promise of the title. Seeing the stages of each step of the printing process gives one a clear picture of the sheer hard work that goes into the production. Some prints have taken up to two years to be completed.

The exhibition starts with a most recent Self Portrait, 2014  - 84 colour woodblock edition of 70 prints. 
(Here's a reminder of this time consuming process - a woodcut print is made by carving out sections of a woodblock, inked and then paper pressed on to the inked surface. Each colour would be printed separately.)
This portrait is one of many self-portraits, a subject always available for experimentation. 

On an adjacent wall is Bob  1969 - 1970 acrylic on gessoed canvas, one of the earliest breakthrough portraits. These early portraits were made using a gridded black and white photo as a reference, airbrushed in black and white on a white ground. White highlights were scraped away with a razor blade.It's so large and so real you can't believe it's paint and you really just want to reach out and touch it! 

If, like me, you are unfamiliar with printing processes, when you walk into the Gallery showing John, 1998 - 124 colour silk screen, the process becomes clear. 

John, 1998 -The first two proofs in the series

This room shows a series of state proofs. The first few prints are pale pastel colours and gradually with each print, more layers are added and as darker colours are superimposed, the image emerges and becomes defined. It reinforces the belief that many artists hold - that the process is what is most valid - that the doing is of more value than the end product. 

Emma 2002 - 113 colour hand printed ukiyo-e woodcut.
In this room we see both an oil painting of Emma and a woodcut print of the same image as well as the wood blocks used by the printer to make the print.
The individual blocks are relief art works as well.

Here's a panorama I took in the room to give you an idea of the display.

Emma 2002 - and the wood blocks

Georgia 1982 - pulp-paper collage on canvas
This is not a print but a paper collage made of dried pulp paper. There is a video showing how this is done. Displayed alongside is the metal grill which is the matrix for the handmade paper piece.

Georgia 1982 - grid and completed work

The exhibition continues at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney until 15th March 2015. 

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