Exhibition: 8th November to 25th January 2014
Artists: Carlos Cruz-Diez, León Ferrari, Terry Frost, Cipriano Martinez, Bridget Riley, Jesus Soto and Emilia Sunyer
This November Maddox Arts will be staging ‘Not So Original’ an exhibition that delves into the symbiotic relationship between the print and the original. Though printmaking is often assumed to be an afterthought in an artist’s practice ‘Not So Original’ demonstrates the variety of roles it may play, spurring the artist’s imagination and engaging in a dialogue with their primary practices. Taking Walter Benjamin’s seminal ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ as it’s starting point, ‘Not So Original’ features the work of five, celebrated 20th century printmakers: Bridget Riley, Carlos Cruz-Diaz, Leon Ferrari, Terry Frost and Jesus Soto, alongside the emerging talents of Cipriano Martinez and Emilia Sunyer.
From the Middle Ages to the advent of the digital era, technology has allowed artists to disseminate their images in the form of reproductions to a wider audience than a single canvas would ever be able to reach. In facing the prospect of engaging a wider audience artists are often compelled to formalize their style so that a singular print may surmise an artist’s catalogue. Likewise such technologies have enabled art lovers to acquire a ‘piece’ of an original via a process in which the artist may have had no hand. The rise of e-editions and 3D printing ask further questions as to how we distinguish the original from the reproduction, when an infinite number of copies can be instantly and flawlessly reproduced indefinitely.
In the work of Bridget Riley and other Op artists the manufacture of artworks by mechanical means can in itself serve as a means to an end. The finesse afforded by the methodical, utilization of screen-printing processes enabled Op artists to achieve a degree of optical distortion that would be impossible without such means. But the pure industrial capacity of printmaking is by no means its only lure. With his background in engineering, Cipriano Martinez deploys the printing process as a way to scrutinize and refine ideas- before committing them to canvas. The instantaneous nature of the printmaking also allows the artist to work at the speed at which their ideas flow and by allowing chance a hand in the construction of artworks the artist becomes flexible to the needs of each piece. In this sense, the medium of printmaking itself offers the artist another language in which to engage their muse.
Lastly, in the case of Emilia Sunyer, it is the physical praxis of printmaking that is integrated into the production of her artworks; for her there is no distinction between an original and the print. For Sunyer, without the technological means at her direct disposal it was necessities that lead to the development of her enigmatic style.