Printmaking, like drawing, is often seen as the poor cousin to painting and sculpture. And I have as yet to work out exactly why that is. With all it’s wonderful techniques and the endless richness of it’s textures and wonderful ‘surprises’ in execution, printmaking has given us some eye-popping artifacts over history. Picasso loved it, so did Miro and Warhol.
The current show at Camperdown’s Artsite – Sydney Printmakers Celebrating 55 years – makes it even harder for me to understand the poor cousin attitude. As part of the 2016 celebrations of the Australia Print Council’s Year of Print, curator Madeleine Tuckfield-Carrano has put together sixty works by Sydney artists that span the range of printmaking, conceptually and technically.
From Neilton Clarke’s lovely surreal ‘Agikawa Spinner (33rpm)’ through Prue Crabbe’s smoke-fragile ‘Sublunary Diversions II’ to the brusque rust textures of ‘Landfall 1’ and ‘Landfall2’ by Anthea Bosenburg, the range is breath-taking. It is all I can do to not reach out and touch these works – print has that effect: the colours and textures, although aiming for the relatively flat, have a tactile, almost erotic attraction. Faint indentations, raised shallow welts, creases and almost imperceptible waves across the surface all draw us in subtly.
Though, flat is not all – Laura Stark’s ‘Totems’ stand as printed paper cylinder’s, tracing paper squares lean out and threaten to fly off the surface of ‘The Space Between’ by Robyn Waghorn. Tuckfield-Carrano’s ‘Autumn Rain’ has fabric stitches across the pigment.
The range of techniques – a couple had me groping for Google – is smartly covered here as well; it is one of the joys of printmaking that it’s techniques go from roughly stamping the paper with hard woodblocks through to gluing elements across the plate as in a collograph, or the relative caressing it with other approaches, such as aquatint.
Rew Hanks’ ‘Peaches and Cream’ (relief print) has that perfect graphic hard edge while the linocut ‘Scratching for Bugs’ by Joanne Gwatkin-Williams shows a charming vaguery of line.
Poor cousin? Bah. These pieces are all as exquisite as you will find, speaking with maybe a quieter poetry that their oil-painted relatives, but powerful poetry nonetheless.
5th March – 27th March 2016