We welcomed artist and architect Peter Cohen back to the Workshop in June of 2023 to expand his knowledge of printmaking. Working with DKW collaborative printer Sarah Judge, Cohen continued working with the monotype technique – although this time around, Cohen produced a series of monoprints that also incorporated pronto lithography. The new unique prints were made in response to charcoal drawings that Cohen had begun developing. This body of work explores the disconnect between notions of utopian and dystopian cities, the concept of viewing cities from within and without and what emerges from the imagery is a sense of both the tension and harmony between natural elements and concrete counterparts.
The works evolve as if on a journey through the first work to the last. There is a sense of zooming in from the drawn landscape to a constructed photographic cityscape, disrupted by broken up architectural drawing- line and shape. It relates back to the idea of travelling through spaces, collecting moments – the photographs and drawn interpretations are all in reference to the very world around us.
Cohen’s use of layering is a powerful component of his communication. The layering of different linear images and photographs mirrors the perspectives we have around us each day; something that the architectural eye will certainly notice the impact of. In doing so, he distorts the familiar – this abstraction creates a space that is in-between history, memory, nostalgia and imagination. This ‘in-between’ is what Cohen has explored as his ‘split landscapes’.
Judge noticed that Cohen’s way of making parallels the process of construction in the sense that the images are made in one form then broken down and transformed into another medium. Cohen’s images start as a digital drawing on his iPad, then move along into the physical matrix of the pronto plate. Multiple plates are used to build up the new iterations further which creates a robust visual field on which the final images find themselves.
Peter worked on polymer plates, which serve better for detailed line work, as well as gummed plates on which he could draw with softer materials such as charcoal, charcoal powder and graphite pencils. Many of the multiple layered images included both a pronto/polymer plate as well as a watercolour monotype plate. The charcoal monotype plates gave the works a soft feeling in some ways, but added a very dynamic texture in others, along with the graphite pencil. Most works were resolved with hand work, often marks being added and then erased, leaving a presence in the history of the marks.
Not having used the this monotype method much, it was both a learning and experimental moment for both Judge and Cohen. Sometimes the plate transferred more data than expected and sometimes less, which was a great platform on which to construct the image. Each work required a large amount of planning in terms of how plates with different techniques would be layered. Whether the first layer would be the drawn monotype or the photographic pronto was enitrely dependent on the specific image. Each image was unique in the construction and printing method with no set formula leaving both Judge and Cohen on their toes. The collaboration between the two was a dynamic time of learning and figuring out new ways of making.
Using different sized pronto plates to give different kinds of embossing, each unique printmaking medium was integral in the image making process. The different mediums together with the photographic images which were included, gave the body of work a somewhat grungy feel that captures the energy and grit of city life whilst also presenting moments of softness.
The resulting body of work slips between internal and external views of urban landscapes, revealing a delicate interplay between the fleeting and the concrete. The collaboration between Cohen and Judge was a testament to their mutual openness to learning and innovative making.