2011-10-14 / Columnists

From The Artist Studio

Revelation In Ink
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein

“Samurai,” monoprint by Melissa Rubin, now on display in InkSplash. “Samurai,” monoprint by Melissa Rubin, now on display in InkSplash. InkSplash 2011, a printmaking exhibit featuring an international cast of artists, has opened in sTudio 6 Gallery in RoCA at Fort Tilden and is being featured on NY1. On view through Sunday, November 6, the critically acclaimed InkSplash, now in its third year, has been scheduled to coincide with the prestigious International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA) Print Fair and Print Week (November 3 – 6). A closing reception in sTudio 6, on Sunday, November 6, 12-4 p.m., will feature a lecture at 2 p.m. by participating artists explaining their printmaking techniques.

Participating artist Esther A. Grillo observes that the present InkSplash exhibit is “an interesting blend of techniques, from the traditional to the latest means of producing multiple prints – inkjet and the computer.” In many pieces, techniques are combined and the traditional becomes contemporary. InkSplash curator Christian Le Gars, a master printmaker whose work appears in the Library of Congress, has commented that many of the works in the show relate to celestial and spiritual themes.

Le Gars’ entry in the exhibit is a set of three grand prints, a triptych joined collectively under the title “Revelation” – grand in technique and in theme. In the words of the artist, he needed to work “fast, clean and delicate.” Each print is created in many complex stages using aquatint for the backgrounds, solar plate and solar light for each of the three sections of the foreground, and watercolor as a finish. The lower third is a quote from the Book of Revelation. The upper and middle thirds on each print are designs representing existence on earth and in heaven relating to the quote on that particular print. The artist has chosen to reflect, in these prints, the positive aspects of the Book of Revelation. Rather than hellfire and brimstone, the images are about “nondamnation – about forgiveness and a transformation to a higher level of comprehension and behavior. Not the end, but a beginning,” explains Le Gars. The resulting works are visually stunning and intellectually complex, prompting the viewer to return to them many times.

Grillo’s “The Sun and the Moon” combines monoprint and the use of plates. The plates were used to create abstract representations of the celestial bodies and their motion. But the artist liked the designs on the plates so much, she included the actual plates in the composition, resulting in a montage that, to Grillo looks like a dancer in motion. Indeed, the figure, in its various parts, seems to move across the paper in a kinetic flow.

“Homo,” by Italian-born Elisa Sassera, was inspired, the artist says, by her passion for words and signs, “from ancient to modern times.” The work addresses

“the essence of being human,” hence the title. In the center is a strong abstract design representing the internal parts, cells and skeleton of a human. The top of the print is an ancient Latin quote from Seneca, asking the viewer, “What is the meaning of your being alive?” and the answer, “My choice is Virtue.” On the bottom are words in Italian that mean ‘made in the Academia,’ the fine arts school in Italy where Sassera fabricated the work. The words, in large bold print, are in the style of signs on packing crates, and were done in aquatint. The central area is printed from a metal plate the artist made herself from pieces of metal and wire. The paper was molded to the uneven shapes of the plate making for a work of dark and light contrasts and beautiful textures.

An artist known to RAA audiences primarily for her wonderfully fanciful digitally manipulated photographs, Jessica Schulman reveals her command of pen and ink in four expertly rendered original drawings. “City Hall Station” is extraordinary in its range of mark-making, achieving a wide variety of textures, values, temperatures and dynamics.

Melissa Rubin’s monoprints are from a series done after living in Japan. Inspired by that country, the mask-like images were influenced by faces she saw in Japanese drama, on masks and kites. Rubin placed soy-based inks directly on Plexiglas, covered the Plexi with paper and ran it through a press. The artist points out that, “One must work quickly in this technique otherwise the ink will dry. It gives [the work] a nice energy.” The color is richly saturated, adding to that energy. With a relatively simple technique, Rubin achieves works complex in color, design and expression, which serve the themes of the masks very well. In a dance between the geometric and the organic; between gray and bright color, Renée Radenberg, known to RAA and BWAC gallerygoers for her glass sculptures and mobiles, here surprises us with monoprints made from cut up fruit dipped in ink overlaid with graphite rectangles and ink bursting in several directions.

The shimmering computer manipulated bodies of water in giclée prints by Yuri Yurov transcend their physical entities to enter their spiritual, aesthetic existence. Abstracted images of clouds, water and sky by photographer Stephanie Schmidt are rendered in limited color and value ranges, cutting to their essential nature.

Fort Tilden Highlights

ARTSPLASH 2011: RAA’s annual
juried, multimedia showcase for
visual and performing arts. sTudio 7
Gallery, RoCA, Fort Tilden. Dates:
through Sun., Oct.16. Free admission. Gallery hrs.: Sat.s and Sun.s
12-4 p.m. and by appointment. See
column for more.
INKSPLASH 2011: Oct. 9-Nov. 6.
The work of an international cast of
printmakers. Gallery hrs: see
above. Free admission to gallery
and special events. See column for
Sun., Nov. 6, 2 p.m.: “The Art of
Printmaking” – Lecture by participants on their printmaking techniques. CLOSING RECEPTION INKSPLASH: Sun., Nov. 6, 12-4 p.m.
Live entertainment and refreshments. HALLOWEEN 2011: Sat., Oct. 29,
Sun., Oct. 30 and Mon., Oct. 31, 6-
9 p.m. in and around sTudio 7.
“Rage in Toyland.” Volunteers needed to prepare and participate.
Contact RAA, but DON’T TELL

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