Exploring printmakers using texture.
Dominik Mersch Gallery 16/10-15/11/14: ‘I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR’ – PAINTINGS, DRAWINGS, MONOTYPES Exhibition.
He uses a small perspex or copper plate which he draws into with oil paints. These he modifies to give particular outcomes using the transfer method on to very wet 300gsm Fabriano paper through a small print press. He may dilute the paints down sufficiently so they appear to speckle or spatter, he may use them heavier with brush techniques or spread and/or remove using other media. Ghost prints feature on many of his works, with stronger line images overlaid, or the same print plate may be overlaid several times without re-inking.
Symbols are often thickly drawn and can sometimes appear to have run marks, although I suspect these are deliberate lines. Brush marks and paint build-up can clearly be seen (although not on the photo as it is behind glass) – indicating thick paint – in swirls creating the rough circular shapes, so no natural paint runs would be possible.
The above close-up image shows a ghost print from another of his works used as the base layer. This has been drawn over in deep orange. Part of this overdrawing has double lines and I can only think that he has used a tool with a double tip (similar to two pencils taped together) in some areas to create the double line effect so accurately. In other sections he has reverted to single lines. He usually sketches first and lies this drawing over the back of his paper to use as a template for the backdrawing transfer. In this image some hard edge transfer interference can also be seen. Because this is not a vague smudge but more definite it leads me to believe that his paint, for the backdrawing stage, must have a very thick consistency but be very thinly applied to the print plate. I suspect mine is still being rolled too thickly.
Not only does he roll paint over the print plate, work back into it and backdraw but he also works directly over the printed images with oil sticks or pencils, adding detail, definition and depth of tone.
Below is a selection of his works from his current exhibition. Each are a little over A4 in siz, framed with slightly more than 1/2″ surround top and sides and 1″ at the base to allow for the title, date and signature.
As a recipient of the Bulgari Award he spent some time in Rome and Venice and as a result he became fascinated in the Venice Carnival, the masks, costumes, the anonymous people he encountered on a daily basis. This led him to consider the coverings many Muslim women wear and whether they contain and constrain the wearer or actually afford them some freedom as they have no need to present themselves to the world for visual scrutiny.
He employs line work extremely successfully – both with brush and back-drawing – and combined with ghost prints, rubbing back, various paint consistencies to form textural effects and scratching out imagery his prints display substantial layering which, in turn, give the pieces a depth and dimensional aspect.
I find them compelling, stimulating and well executed.
Photos with permission from the artist and gallery.