Research Point: Printmakers who use Back-drawing

Research Point: Printmakers who use Back-drawing

Find some printmaking artists who use back drawing.  Examine how they use it and evaluate it. Does it work well? What can you learn from it?

I struggled to find anyone at first because printing is all new to me. I decided to have a look through some fellow students’ blogs to at least come up with some names and go from there. Funnily enough, once I found a way in, I began unearthing more artists by myself.

One of these was William Kentridge, a South African artist who makes monoprints, lino and wood block cuts and engraving, along with drawing and film making. He has a background in theatre sets which appears to have inspired his Pit series of monoprints. These entail images of three-sided set-like structures, (sets also known as pits apparently) with figures in a sort of tableau. Some of these appear to have back drawing and some not. However, the most striking series of monoprints which certainly seem to have copious amounts of back drawing is the Thinking Aloud series.  He doesn’t appear to have a website of his own, although is mentioned on many therefore I hope the image below is not infringing any copyright.

William Kentridge: Thinking Aloud, Limited Edition (with 3 Prints) , William KENTRIDGE, BREIDBACH, Angela - Rare & Contemporary Photography ...:

Thinking Aloud Monoprint by William Kentridge

The original monoprint appears to have been worked into in a progression of prints and developed further. This has produced a set of lively marks and become a tangle of scratchings and “thoughts” as the title implies. I think this puts across the message, culminates in illustrating the mass of thoughts a human brain produces yet keeps the base print image dominant. From this I can learn the freedom that this method and/or technique can give an artist yet still keep an anchor in the original.

Another artist, that although was mentioned by other students, I kept coming across in my searches was Paul Gauguin. I didn’t realise that he was known for his mono-types as well as his paintings, yet there seems to be many examples – I’m glad I’ve found some. The ones I found are mainly based on the Tahitian women.

Paul Gauguin, Crouching Tahitian woman, 1901 – 1902, traced monotype print. I think this artwork would go beautifully with Mid-Century.:

Paul Gauguin, Crouching Tahitian woman, 1901 – 1902, traced monotype print.

“Crouching Tahitian Woman” above is clearly back-drawn, with the outline defined and the dark tones of the shadows hatched. This may be considered a more traditional method and enhances the darkness of the shadows and adds some texture.

775px-Paul_Gauguin,_Eve_(The_Nightmare),_1899–1900_monotype.jpg (775×1023):

Eve (The Nightmare) 1899–1900 monotype by Paul Gauguin

“Eve (The Nightmare)” is a more complex example and works well to give the scene some menace. The colours are limited so the back drawing gives more definition to the subject and composition, assisting the viewer’s eye around the image. The back drawn marks work nicely with the softer monoprint textures to give variety of tone.

Some other artists I looked are Ann Symes and Pawel Kwiatkowksi of which examples can be viewed on my Pinterest board


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