Friday, March 10, 2006

Review: Contemporary Prints

Contemporary Prints (from Tandem Press)
at Ruschman Art Gallery

[image left, David Lynch]

Coming from a printmaking background, I find it easy to come in and look at these prints, admiring technique and the process in which each of these pieces were made. But, perhaps that can be too easy. Getting lost in process and the skill of printing rather than look at the works and judge them on their own artistic merits. Maybe this initial desire to read the works of mere technique rather than concept and formal issues is perpetuated by how close all the works are hung to each other. A common problem at many galleries and museums, but sometimes forgivable. There are a large number of prints on display here in Ruschman's moderate sized gallery space, and many look really nice with the natural light that fills the gallery. Enough of all this let me talk a bit about the works.

There are numerous artists on display currently, Sam Gilliam, David Lynch, Squeak Carnwath, Robert Cottingham, Judy Pfaff, Jim Dine, Gronk, and more. One room of the gallery is dominated by the prints of Judy Pfaff who has worked with Tandem Press for several years. Many of these artists were new to printmaking before their relationship with Tandem and it is this collaborating effort that makes for some wonderful prints. There are some great examples from the moody photo-litho prints by David Lynch (yes the Director of Twin Peaks, Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, etc.) and some nice new works from Sam Gilliam. These particular pieces from Sam seem a departure of sorts from many of the works people may associate with him, as these new works titled 'Castle Banners' are more controled. Actually I do not like that word, let's say they are more minimal and structured than previous prints and works he has been known for. I say the show is worth looking at. And use this time to better understand what exactly an original print is. As many people try to pawn off reproductions and some digital print-outs as original which is misleading. The idea of a true original print is a work of art that was concieved and made to be a finished work of art on its own rather than reproduce a work that is already in existence. Prints are a wonderful way to collect affordable works by artists whose other works may be beyond your means, but this means you should also do some research to make sure you know what you are getting before hand. Enjoy the prints.

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