Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Medium Of The Message

I've always wanted to do a series of prints. In the past, I've been invited to collaborate with print-makers on etchings, silk-screens, and (to my horror) giclée or ink-jet versions of my paintings but I really wanted to do something more original, on my own, and avoid mere replications of my existing works. I also wanted whatever it might turn out to be to resonate with my past.
My early work was influenced by graffiti, sticker tagging, agitprop and propaganda posters from the mid 20th century. Back then, I was interested in the wood block prints produced during China's Cultural Revolution, in which symbolic colours and simplified shapes reinforced short, directive slogans. Ease of printing meant that these were among the most intensively mass-produced, widely distributed art of the pre-web 20th century: the objective was maximum saturation of the imagery and the propagandist ideas represented in it.
Given these influences, the obvious medium for
my serial works was stencil. This gave me pause: conventional stenciling is crude and I didn't want to end up with a pastiche of bad street art. I experimented with different methods and materials. I wanted the finish to be beautiful and seductive, referring to ideas in my other hard-edged work. It also had to be durable.
I'm now refining versions of two early ideas – one titled NO!, the other, YES?. Each is hand-stencilled in high gloss enamel on 100% cotton,
museum-quality, archival mat board – the stark contrast of shiney paint on flat, unprepared board is stunning – and measures around 40cm high by 60cm wide (15.7" x 23.6").
I'll probably offer five editions of 25 signed, numbered prints each in five different colours: lime green, hot pink, tangerine orange, papal purple and jet black. A sixth, 'artist's proof' edition of just ten signed prints will be in white gloss enamel (still on white mat board). Like agitprop street posters, different versions of the same – or opposite – messages could be hung together.
The simple, hand-worked stencil process should make each very affordable.
More than anything, I want the works to appeal to as many people as possible. Like any good propaganda.


JenXer said...

I've always liked the sneer on the "No!" face.

Anonymous said...

Too cool Hazel!!


Susan Adsett said...

Great idea - I can't wait to see it - I'm especially interested in seeing the white on white print

Natalie said...

Hazel, why are you horrified by giclee printing? Many artists- particularly the young, not so established ones that have built their reputation online- use that medium as it's more afforable for those people who can't buy their originals.
Like Susan, I'm interested to see the white on white too.

Hazel Dooney said...

Emerging artists' work isn't (or shouldn't be) highly priced, so I don't see why they would make glicée prints as a more affordable option.

A glicée print is a poor quality, unimaginative reproduction. With new inks, it may last. But essentially it's a very high resolution photocopy.

Artists – emerging or otherwise – should have the integrity to come up with an original series for collectors with a smaller budget. Frankly, I find it insulting to offer people with limited budgets a poster of a painting.

fantasio said...

If giclée is poor quality then you probaly havn´t seen a good one yet.

Talking about photography - why do professional photographers chose an Epson 8 color giclée on a hahnemühle photo rag rather than a kodak or agfa, etc... for their limited editions? Maybe because a traditional photoprint lasts only 30 years...

I´m a digital creator and therefore experimenting a lot with finding the best medium to represent my work for exhibitions, and i never came across a better solution then to offer a giclée print on canvas that is finished by hand with an additional UV- finish which is followed by a structurpaste to give the digital strokes a physical depth(which alone is unreproducible) topped by a custom or hand wrought framing.

Anonymous said...

Hi all, interesting discussion. I agree with fantasio. The best inkjet prints are no mere photocopies, (more precisely - all photographes are photocopies of a negative) nor are they unimaginative, they are high-end photographs available on a wide range of specialist quality papers from leading traditional photographic companies, indistinguishable from a wet photographic print.

Many inexperienced photographers trying to get a good print on ink give up because the ink printing process is just as technical as the darkroom process, and it needs a professional to get the most out of the technology, otherwise the print will look substandard.

In the end result, of course the art collecter will want an artwork to last a very long time, and inkjet prints of good quality ink and paper should last nearly five times longer than traditional photographic wet prints, even rated eight times longer than cibachromes.

And also the collector isnt paying only for the paper, wet or inkjet, otherwise an artwork costs $15.95 - they are paying for the artists vision printed on the $15.95 sheet of paper, however it is printed, in a lab or home studio. Picaso painted with house paint on wood, and those paintings are worth millions, even though the paint has been absorbed into the wood and the grain shows through.

Posters of paintings are certainly cheap copies of great art, so i can understant Hazels approach to the meduim, however photographs must be printed by the serious photographic artist under his or her best judgement, using new, old, or improviced technologies to get the intended result.