The Pacific Rim International Print Exhibition 2013

 

The Pacific Rim International Print Exhibition 2013

If only you could see what i’ve see with your eyes. 1

No longer simply the exclusive domain of the art collector or the political voice of the public, in the 21st century, the fine art of printmaking takes place in an unruly world inundated by images.  It is a domain now described as Post-Internet, a realm in which the information highway is now ‘less a novelty and more a banality.’ 2

How can printmaking communicate with attitude, intelligence and relevance in a world that is, ‘informed by ubiquitous authorship,’ and an ‘infinite reproducibility and mutability of digital images?’ 3

In a Post-Internet era, images sometimes appear to have lost any remaining sense of integrity.  The premise of authenticity becomes irrelevant.

Yet, even in the acknowledgment of such concerns, printmaking still finds ways and means to argue for sincerity and truth.   How is this possible?  A number of images in the 2013 Pacific Rim International Print Exhibition admit to the deceptive act of looking for certainties, instead directing attention to an awareness of the unique experience of observing and considering.  They shift attention to a reflection on the open-ended potential of images and the ways in which they are received and read.

Is Beauvais Lyons, Ornitholigical Marmot, a relic from 19th century folk art or a history of ornithology?  In raising the question, Lyons’ iconography locates the issue of authenticity centre stage.  One answer to this scrutiny of truth is implicit in Edward Bateman Spectral Device No 2.  Bateman’s image of a Victorian spiritualist reveals an historical taste for deception that recognises a constant reality about human behaviou

Beauvais Lyons Ornithological Quadruped Long-Tailed Marmot Heron, Lithograpgy, 710 x 710mm. Tennessee, USA

Beauvais Lyons
Ornithological Quadruped Long-Tailed Marmot Heron, Lithograpgy, 710 x 710mm. Tennessee, USA

So is the very notion of deception simply evidence of an inability to fully consider all possible truths and certainties?  Scott Groeniger’s, stand-in nautical maps in Table 3: For Error Candidates appear to give relevance to sailing charts as blueprints for mapping outer space, while Joan T. Nye’s Taka Atoll rightly argues for the integrity of ancient navigation systems for voyages in the Pacific.

These and other images in Pacific Rim comprehend the subjectivity of looking and the infinite potential of a reading a single image.  Bill Laing’s Time # 4 poises formal and spatial relationships in a curious and all-too tangible state of detachment and intimacy, and the film-noir aesthetic of Ann Chernow’s Follow Me assumes that nostalgia and documented fact are one, while Endi Poskovic Crossing, assimilates memory and reality in an image of a landscape from childhood as a sublime, Gothic nightmare.

Anne Starling Child's Play, Linoblock, Caborundum, Collagraph, 505 x 760mm. Sydney, Australia

Anne Starling
Child’s Play, Linoblock, Caborundum, Collagraph, 505 x 760mm. Sydney, Australia

The premise of nature as metaphor for unease and anxiety – evidence of a breach between humanity and the natural world- is also shared in a number of works.  In Anne Starling’s Child’s Play it appears as a disturbing and orchestrated fusion of innocence, urban settlement and the anticipated charge of a sky aflame.  Anthony Davies’ Apocalypse Now, overlays fragments of recent tragedies, natural events and human disasters from Japan, Italy and New Zealand.  Sarah Whorf’s Loophole, adopts a deceptively playful eye-of-God perspective of impending disaster, alluding to the brevity of life in a woodcut print that, ironically, acknowledges enduring traditions of Japanese printmaking.

Antony Davies Apocalypse Now -4, Woodcut and spray paint, 500 x 700mm. Wanganui, New Zealand

Antony Davies
Apocalypse Now -4, Woodcut and spray paint, 500 x 700mm. Wanganui, New Zealand

Sarah Whorf Loophole, Reduction Woodcut, 457 x 610mm. California, USA

Sarah Whorf
Loophole, Reduction Woodcut, 457 x 610mm. California, USA

This confession that an artist’s practice belongs to traditions and histories of constructed iconographies, is recognition of the artist’s intentions to give context to their work, as well as the promise of conceptual and visual territory they may soon be about to inhabit.  The uninterrupted skyline and silhouetted landscape in Shirley Bernstein’s A New Day, is reminiscent of Canadian and American regionalism and Anthony Lazorko Jr’s Clunkers, finds a metaphor for the United States in the imagery of Edward Hopper’s paintings.  The rhythms and energy of the natural world in Michele Boston’s Helana Bay, Northland, evoke the rural landscapes of E. Mervyn Taylor and the materials and treatment of space in Cleo Wilkinson’s Abeyance exist between the formalism of Vermeer’s interiors and the iconography of French symbolism – peculiarly sustained by a purposeful and commanding ambivalence.

Yuji Hirarsuka Beet Meets Meat, Intaglio, 900 x 600mm. Oregon, USA

Yuji Hirarsuka
Beet Meets Meat, Intaglio, 900 x 600mm. Oregon, USA

Similarly, Yjui Hirasuka’s Beet Meets Meat, celebrates the bounty of nature – clothing, food, colour and life, and does so with an awareness of the potential of the imagery of traditional Ukiyo-e prints and Japanese television cartoons.   Ben Reid’s Future Eating seems less certain of humanity’s relationship with the planet’s resources.  The promise of a catch-of-the-day sits between responsibility for dwindling food supplies and a need for sustenance and life.

future eating sm

Ben Reid
Future eating, Intaglio and relief print, 540 x 705mm. Christchurch, New Zealand

Both Rosemary Mortimer and Sylvia Solochek Walters also touch on questions around consumption.  Mortimer’s Outsourcing highlights the gap between the fashion industry in the Western world and its workers in poor countries, while Walters’ decorative and ironic consideration of her subjects in The Road is Closed, alludes to uneasy transactions between humanity and Nature. This measured subversion of images and their potential for deception and illumination is equally evident in Jonathan McFadden’s, I Aided Our Enemies – a random phrase taken from the television news, made over as conundrum.

Jonathan McFadden I Aided Our Enemies, Screen-print with digital print, 560 x 760mm. Kentucky, USA

Johnathan McFadden
I Aided Our Enemies, Screen-print with digital print, 560 x 760mm. Kentucky, USA

If printmakers like McFadden are currently dealing with, and to, issues that concern the unceasing consumption of images, they have also responded and warmed to its processes – sampling and cut-and-paste.  New technologies have been seized and integrated into traditional practices.  Yet, such appropriations are often made within a context of traditions of modernism and abstraction.   Digital technologies has not replaced other methods in printmaking, but rather extended choice and capacity. 4

Briar Craig  IAMBIC HYSTERIA, Ultra-Violet Screen-print, 710 x 1010mm. British Colombia, Canada

Briar Craig
IAMBIC HYSTERIA, Ultra-Violet Screen-print, 710 x 1010mm. British Colombia, Canada

Briar Craig’s IAMBIC HYSTERIA pastiches images and materials, discovering and encouraging new ways of positioning and reading found texts and iconographies.  Jan Zimmer’s Prisoners de Guerra brings together monotypes, photographs, phrases and fragments of drawing, assembling a narrative about the value of care and protection for others within a narrative that recognises the seemingly random connectedness between all people.

Poskovic

In AR-15, Miguel A. Aragón, pursues meaning and sense in the randomness of drug-related deaths in Mexico, integrating the subject of his imagery into the processes of their making.  Aragón utilises computer generated images and laser cutting processes that literally burn an impression of his subject.

Johnathan Glover Basilica 1, Collaged Silk screen with paint, 500 x 500mm. Christchurch, New Zealand

Johnathan Glover
Basilica 1, Collaged Silk screen with paint, 500 x 500mm. Christchurch, New Zealand

John-Mark Schlink’s  Architectural Possibilities, deals to abstraction through a generous engagement with materials and process; aquatint, drypoint, spit bite, and engraving.  Schlink assembles images that reveal a rich and challenging complexity, constantly moving between animated spatial and architectural relationships.  Such concerns are shared in the visual ambiguities of Jonathan Glover’s Basilica 1 orchestration of colour, rhythm and space, while Michael Marshall’s S12#19,  intaglio and stencil forms establish paradoxical, yet somehow congenial dialogues, between the geometric and organic.

Daisuke Inada Nature's Notes, Wood Lithography, 512 x 965mm. Tokyo, Japan

Daisuke Inada
Nature’s Notes, Wood Lithography, 512 x 965mm. Tokyo, Japan

In Nature’s Notes Daisuke Inada, partners method with intention.  His consideration of the transience of the natural world is essential to the symbolism and construction of the image.  Through the process of the wood lithograph, his imagery admits to the passage of time.  In contrast, Penelope Le Petit’s, Sprout 1, touches warmly on the experience of life itself – rebirth and regeneration in a kind of joyful metaphorical cadence.

Mark Graver Umbra Sumus, Acrylic Resit  Etching, 900 x 500mm, Kerikeri, New Zealand

Mark Graver
Umbra Sumus, Acrylic Resit Etching, 900 x 500mm, Kerikeri, New Zealand

Mark Graver’s Umbra Sumus is one of a series of photo-polymer etchings that incorporate video and sound.  These images of shadows and light, (manipulated on an iPad and printed as acetate), signify a requiem from son to a father.

Graver’s allusions to the gravity of life’s experience, sampled from recent technologies and traditional printmaking processes, and his expression of the universality of such moments, like all the works that make up Pacific Rim, provide a respond to the proposition introducing this essay.  How can printmaking maintain its relevance in a world overwhelmed by images?   Printmaking offers timely warnings, elegies and pleasures, and succinct and meaningful observations on human behaviour.  An invitation to see what others may or may not know they see, retaining a power to continue to influence and persuade.

Dr. Warren Feeney


1. Roy Batty, renegade Nexus -6 replicant in Ridley Scott, Blade Runner, Warner Brothers, 1982

3. Ibid.

4. Rosie Miles and Gill Saunders,  Printmaking in the 21st Century, http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/p/prints-21st-century/

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