Maja Maljević – Polytekton (poly=many tekton=artisan, maker or craftsman)

Maljević has been making prints with the David Krut Workshop (DKW) since 2007. Over the years she has made etchings, monotypes, woodcuts and linocuts. In anticipation for her solo show Polytekton, 2018 at the David Krut Projects Gallery, Johannesburg, Maljević collaborated with Master Printer Jillian Ross and her team, at the David Krut Workshop, on a series of prints titled Documents for the People. This exciting new body of work, as Maljević’s title of her show suggests, demonstrates a multitude of techniques and aspects of her craft.

 61 x new prints

11 x silkscreen colours

5 x intaglio colours

9 x types of paper

8 x techniques

6 x printmakers

1 x artist

In one month Maljević and the DKW team worked to produce 61 unique print collages. The idea was to bring multiple print techniques together to layer and combine colour, mark and shape allowing Maljević to explore and experiment with different combinations.

The prints began with base layers using two intaglio plates (see image below). The drypoint plate was made by sanding and scratching into the surface of the plate to produce different tonal variations. The etching plate was made using hardground and features ruler drawn lines and patterns. These were printed in different colours as a starting point.

Etching on Monotype – work in progress

Next the plan chest drawers of chine collé papers were pulled open and rifled through to see which beautiful paper would make interesting base sheets. Different types of paper were selected, these were: delicately thin paper of Gampi Natural and White, Inbei, thicker smooth cream coloured Gampi Velum, thin hand made paper of Alice Goldin donated paper, thicker hand made dyed papers of Mingei black and yellow and Korean paper in black, grey and blue. Sheets of Somerset Soft White 300gsm and Hahnemuhle Bright and Natural white 300gsm were also used as support sheets.

As Maljević and the workshop got into the swing of things cutout linoleum shapes were printed in multiple colours (See Document for the people 27 below). To experiment further with repetitive line and shapes Maljević drew onto draft film, the drawings were exposed to make silkscreens. The screens were printed in multiple colours on already started works as well as blank sheets of paper.

Document for the People 27 – a good example of linoleum shapes on the right with hardground line etching plate printed in red

The team experimented with monotypes of flat colours printed beneath and on top of some of the prints (see Document for the people 9 printed with pink and … 10 printed with yellow). Maljevic began to work with smaller offcuts of paper to collage shapes similar to those found on the silkscreen, intaglio and relief plates. As this element of collage took hold in adding further layers this monotype technique expanded further into flat colours of gampi being printed for Maljević to cut out. Further works were laid face down onto flat squares of rolled out litho and etching ink for Maljević to do trace monotypes.

Through this playful and experimental process Maljevic explores concepts such as the old school blue from BIC ball-point pens from her childhood in some of the the etched lines and then  creates repetitive patterns of shapes, colors and layers reminiscent of her lined school notebooks.

Through each of these techniques Maljević places forms of opposing authority into her quirky but linear and symmetrical compositions, giving the viewer the feeling that something is a little “off”.  The final composition however, results in visual stability.  The narratives portrayed in the images are not obvious at first, but rather allows an opportunity for the viewer to delve into the imagination, interpret and compose images of unique meaning, becoming documents or reflections of personal interpretation.

See the works produced in the series:

Maja Maljević – Documents for the People

And see more about the exhibition:

Polytekton by Maja Maljević