New prints on the block

By Mark Hampson

Published 3 March 2014

There is a fresh spirit of experimentation at this year’s London Original Print Fair, which takes place in the RA’s Main Galleries. Mark Hampson, the RA Schools’ Head of Material Processes, picks the printmakers to watch.

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London Original Print Fair 2014

RA Schools

Mark Hampson

  • From the Spring 2014 issue of RA Magazine, issued quarterly to Friends of the RA.

    The London Original Print Fair, now in its 29th year, is the world’s longest-running specialist fair dedicated to printmaking in all its diverse forms. It is well known by both connoisseurs and newer collectors as a chance to enjoy and buy traditional and modern prints by some of the great masters of the medium, but it is also an opportunity to see contemporary artists’ works, many of which are launched at the event.

    The merging of processes old and new is increasingly apparent in the works of contemporary printmakers, many of whom share a love for craftsmanship and a passion for technological potential. A perfect example is Katsutoshi Yuasa, whose hauntingly beautiful woodcuts, such as Wonder Woods, from 2011, are painstakingly created by hand over several months to reinterpret the immediacy of his own digital snapshots. Presented at TAG Fine Arts alongside Yuasa is Justine Smith, best known for her paper-cuts. Her Money Map of the World (2013), a combined inkjet and pearlised screenprint featuring collaged banknotes from every official currency in circulation, presents an alternative portrait of the world that is both politically and poetically charged.

  • Video

    The making of 'Asklepios' by Zachary Eastwood-Bloom

  • A contrast to these technologically complex works is the minimal beauty of John Robertson’s Once Twice, Twice (2013), a screenprint on translucent polyester film published by Jealous Gallery. Using confident linear brush strokes Robertson’s work often explores the abstract possibilities of text as image. Here he has produced a print that updates both Op and Pop sensibilities for a contemporary audience, as do other works at Jealous by artists such as Charming Baker.

    Innovation in screenprinting is also evident in the images of unspecified objects by Humphrey Ocean RA, who has collaborated with Advanced Graphics on his first screen- based works for more than 40 years. These new prints, combining painterly expressiveness with calligraphic control, are released at the fair.

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    Asklepios.

  • Besides providing the venue for the fair in the splendour of the Academy’s Main Galleries, the RA is also one of the participant publishers, selling prints produced in its Schools as part of the RA Editions initiative, whose profits support current RA students. It has published around 40 original works by Royal Academicians including Tracey Emin, Bill Jacklin, Mali Morris, Gary Hume, Chris Orr and Grayson Perry, as well as RA Schools’ graduates such as Liane Lang, Pio Abad, Maciej Urbanek and Ha Young Kim. And this year sees the start of a new prize for RA Schools students sponsored by Towry.

    Alongside new prints by alumnus Prem Sahib and new Academician Bob and Roberta Smith, RA Editions launches its first 3D print. The limited-edition sculptural multiple Asklepios (2014) by Zachary Eastwood-Bloom is inspired by a bust originally seen by the artist in the Schools’ historic life-drawing room. The bust was captured digitally and the resulting form was manipulated by Eastwood-Bloom before being printed using rapid prototyping technology. It was then cast in jesmonite.

    Such daring technical innovation demonstrates the renewed enthusiasm contemporary artists have for the medium of printmaking.

    London Original Print Fair is in the Main Galleries at the RA from 24 – 27 April.

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