11 Prints for Under £500
The painter Stephen Chambers, who hung the room that, almost by tradition, has become the print gallery of the Summer Exhibition, describes printmaking as his ‘second language. I arrived late at this practice and I’m not technically an expert. Indeed, left to my own devices, I’d be happy to resort to the potato print.’
What he really means by this exercise in self-deprecation is that he prefers a graphic art in which the idea and image are more important than the display of technical skill. And he likes the peculiarities of a particular technique to be clearly exploited: he’s not at all in favour of a lithograph masquerading as a watercolour, for example.
Ana Maria Pacheo, Dark Event VII Drypoint, 86 × 78 cm Photograph © Pratt Contemporary Art
It follows that Chambers is especially interested in prints by artists better known for their work in other media. So he’s included prints by Ana-Maria Pacheco (right) and Kiki Smith, more familiar as sculptors, as well as by the painters Basil Beattie and Tony Bevan, who in their graphic work ‘take a sideways glance at what intrigues them, so in that sense they’re using printmaking to pursue artistic enquiry’. Other prints surprise by their unusual scale or unusual use of materials. The most obvious example of this is the audaciously huge linocut by Christoph Rückhaberle in garish colours and a sophisticatedly naïve style.
Of course, many of the artists represented here are consummate printmakers and best known as such. One is Norman Ackroyd; another is Chris Orr, whose fertile imagination has come up with a joky tribute to Dürer lodged in his Nuremberg studio drawing his rhinoceros from his imagination. Lucian Freud, as well known as an etcher as he is a painter, is represented by the portrait Donegal Man. It leaves the sitter anonymous so as to add a note of mystery.