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Kunst

A Shift

Since I have been working as an artist, I have always had times when I felt that I couldn't continue any longer with what I was doing and that I had to find new forms of expression. I have found this process of renewing, changing and adjusting to be both exciting and, at times, an uncomfortable challenge. There were easier changes like starting to work with Japanese woodblock printmaking after years of etching, or shifting from colour images to black-and-white, and then back, and back again.

There was a major shift seven years ago, when I was no longer satisfied with my rather graphic sharp-edged woodblock prints. I had been drawing my images directly onto the wooden plate with a pencil. I had the idea of painting my designs with a brush on Japanese paper, pasting the paper onto the blocks, then recutting the brush strokes. This allowed for more spontaneous expression and I was able to create very painterly and soft prints, which rather resembled water-colours.

In the previous years, during sketching, I always had a fairly exact image in mind which I tried to express as "perfectly" as possible, like the distilling of an essence. As soon as I had done my sketch, almost everything was fixed and I executed the idea by cutting and later printing a limited edition, with all copies looking as similar as possible.

I had a key experience in 2007 when I was working in a Canadian printmaking studio as an artist-in-residence. A renowned Canadian master printer came to visit and I showed him the proofs of the print I was working on. I expected him to point out what he thought was the best version, but he felt that all of the proofs had something. At the time, I found that just an interesting opinion. But over the years, this point of view kept working within me.

More recently my images have started to become even more soft. The former brush strokes have changed into slightly blurry shapes, in alignment with changes within me. There is more room now for ambiguity, the possibility of many different yet perfect things. I have started to plan my prints in a way which allows more freedom during printing by distributing the shapes onto more plates. I had already changed my way of printing during the past years, building the colour by printing layer over layer of often totally different colour pigments, thus achieving a vibrant and complex impression. This worked perfectly, but also introduced more variability and thus the prints started showing serious differences, which is a problem in classical editioning. In the end, I felt the need to bring this sense of openness and exploration into the printing process and lessen the aspect of control and repetition. While still holding firmly to the essence of an initial idea, I am now diving into the printing in a less controlled way, following ideas, changing colours and colour mixes, varying contrasts.

 

 

The resulting prints, differing significantly form one another, are more equivalent to my transformed experience. The prints evolve just as each moment grows into the next. With each print being unique, I came to question the system of numbering them in a limited edition. This no longer made sense to me, and I have now begun to number each one without limiting the total number. Each edition, like each print, has become more open and more vital.

 

 

Berlin, January 2014

 

 


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