Writing Art History Since 2002

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25 years of prints & editions I Franchise I Johannesburg

The fashionable clientele who frequent 44 Stanley Road, the host venue of this exhibition of collaborative prints from David Krut Printing Workshop, are typically more concerned with cinnamon sticks in their tea than printmaking. Undeterred, Krut and Franchise curator Lara Riviera opted to enlighten the complex’s chichi crowd with this showcase of a decade’s innovation in print. Commissioned by, and produced in Krut’s Parktown print studio, the on-going project aims to bridge the gap between fine artists, publishers and printmaking. The print medium, like photography, has been underrated as an exclusive high art product partly because of its multiplicity but also for its use for social development (Rorkes Drift and Polly Street). This latter tendency has resulted in prints being unfairly pigeonholed. This exhibition put such stereotyping to rest. While showcasing artistic heavyweights such as William Kentridge and Willem Boshoff, the exhibition also provided a platform for emerging artists. The 20 odd artists on display illustrated both the eclecticism and malleability of the print medium, moving beyond the staid conceptions that printmaking equals John Muafangejo.Print can be a relatively flat and graphic medium. However as one navigated the display it was clear how style and technique render both depth and texture. A variety of techniques were shown, from Wim Botha’s detailed etchings of animalistic scenes, to Bronwyn Findlay’s textured impressions of trans-culturated African blankets, or the more painterly technique of Penny Siopis’s rather unsettling Shame series (2004). Selected works were accompanied by a thorough explanation of the type of printing processes used. An interesting addition was Sandile Zulu’s Cosmic Conceptions 2 (2005), which resembled a myriad collection of ochre planetary shapes floating against a heavy textured white background. The impression was created during the printing process by painting and boiling condensed milk, leaving rusty circular traces. Kim Lieberman’s print, titled PSP (2005), was a quiet maternal portrait. The elongated strip of perforated postal stamp paper it is printed on, as well as the incorporated embroidery in the lower register of the print adds a greater complexity to the viable possibilities of print-making.The show’s generous spatial placement allowed the viewer ample space to reflect on the pieces. However, their set-up appeared arbitrary, apparently chosen more for the size of the works than their content or technique. Consideration of these spatial dynamics might have added another fruitful interpretive dimension to an exhibition which foregrounded creative reciprocity.

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