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.