8 December – 15 January 2012* | Private View Wednesday 7 December 6.00-9.00 pm
*The gallery will be open by Appointment only from 19 December-4 January
Using rather rudimentary gouged tools to carve into a linoleum sheet may seem the stuff of a school art class, but BIG ASS Linocuts and Linomations takes this technique to an impressive, large-scale level. Recalling the traditions of fundamental image-making, linocut plays equally upon drawing, carving, and printmaking to present bold graphic images. Being extremely labour intensive and time consuming is all par for the course with this form of relief printing, where preparation and technique are everything.
BIG ASS Linocuts and Linomations presents works which push the boundaries of this seemingly simple artform. Here, technique and ideas are intertwined, each informed by the other. By creating works on a large scale which are by their very nature labour intensive, the artists set out the seriousness of their intent. The works are rooted in the oldest of print forms; the relief print, yet they are unconstrained by history and are at times playful and irreverent.
Bill Fick’s giant Skull and the cartoonish violence of Hooligan IV compete for attention with Nick Morley’s funny prints of extinct animals with human accessories but each reaches beyond the initial impact of the one-liner to reflect on the nature of human behaviour. Peter Rapp, Chris Pig and Steve Edwards present characters from alternate realities who seem larger than life, disconcerting or repellent: deformed praying figures, shady types and grotesque business men. Wuon Gean Ho’s Together/Apart is a pair of portraits of a couple who are literally not there, the attitudes of the absent bodies being described only through the surface textures of their clothing. Mark Andrew Webber riffs on the traditions of typography and cartography, laboriously carving placenames out of letters which are shaped by the buildings and areas they represent.
Where such labour is involved the idea of time is ever-present. Several of the artists in BIG ASS have taken this to its natural conclusion and developed their printed forms into animations. Scott Minzy’s gory prints enter the realms of horror once they are manipulated with computer software; eyeballs are poked out by probing fingers and limbs fall off. Mark Andrew Webber carves his linomations frame by frame, hundreds of which are needed for a few seconds of movement. Carsten Nicolaus makes animated forms that don’t move around, rather the figures pulse and vibrate, becoming more or less transparent and allowing us to see with x-ray eyes the printed layers beneath the surface. Wuon Gean Ho gives us a view of her own head which slowly turns through 360 degrees. Looking closer we see each frame is a separate print incorporating different imagery. The result is a more fully rounded portrait than would be possible in two dimensions, showing us both literally and metaphorically the different sides of her personality.
BIG ASS Linocuts and Linomations is a touring exhibition conceived and curated by Nick Morley. It will be shown at HemingwayArt in Oxfordshire in April 2012.