Sunday, November 4, 2012


At the IFPDA Print Fair, part of the unfortunately timed Print Week, there was plenty of discussion about galleries hard-struck by the hurricane. But there were also plenty of people and plenty of art works to see. Red dots were spotted here and there.

I took out my "dumb" (perhaps somebody will coin another term for "smart phone") phone and snapped many pictures, and then took a number of mental snapshots. Among my snaps: photographs of Don Brown's photos of sculptures of his wife (his gallery is Paul Stolper); two-dimensional works-turned-three, by Liliana Porter, and embroidered works by Soledad Salamé (at Goya Contemporary); prints by Jessie Arms Botke and Frances Gearhart (at the Prints & The Pauper); Tess Jaray screenprints (at Advanced Graphics London); and prints by Richard Gorman.

The Gorman prints, brought to the fair by Stoney Road Press, were one stop along a fairly dazzling tour conducted by Phillip Sanders, the director of the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop. Mr. Sanders introduced many aspects of the printmaker's world, including reverse proofs (a set of Theodore Roussel prints at Pia Gallo), chine-collé (a James Siena at Harlan & Weaver), and the autographic fact of lithography (Nina Lopez's work at the Tamarind Institute).

When we arrived at the Stoney Road Press to view the Gorman prints, Mr Gorman's work muted anything Mr Sanders was saying, and partly because I had been thinking about two of them the night before. The artist had set pieces of wood aside one another and then printed off them onto square pieces of (as the director put it) "marine ply from a building suppliers' yard" (which disappeared, he said later, in the maw of the Celtic Tiger). Intended for crates, the thin wooden pieces were selected for their "interesting surfaces." Artists want pieces that are marked and roughened, not smooth.

Bending over something like Dark Wave (although not Dark Wave, and I was still too absorbed to be concerned about titles), the director, David O'Donoghue, said,

"We want stuff that's got lots of activity."

Natural "hoof marks", depressions in the wood -- "whatever breaks a flat surface" -- make for activity.

Earlier Mr Sanders had referred to images in the Roussel prints as "information."

Information, activity. A new way to think about both words. So goes the special language of printmakers.

I suppose if I wanted to be cutesy I would say that the next place to look for signs of activity is the London Original Print Fair or the (as they say in French) Salon International de l'Estampe et du Dessin.

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