DKW Review 2012

DKW Scrapbook

David Krut Projects Cape Town will be hosting its annual summer print show from 15 December 2012 – 12 January 2013, showcasing a selection of new editions produced in collaboration with the David Krut Print Workshop, a collaborative intaglio and monotype studio at Arts on Main, Johannesburg.

This year has seen more linocuts and woodcuts being produced than ever before in the workshop. Represented in this show are linocuts and woodcuts by William Kentridge, Senzo Shabangu, Kristin Yang, Maja Maljević and Stephen Hobbs who, among others, all chose the medium over etching.

The Universal Archive linocuts began as a series of small ink drawings by William Kentridge on pages of old dictionaries, made using both old and new paintbrushes. The images are made up of both solid and very fine lines, with an unconstrained virtuosity of mark-making. The ink drawings were initially attached to linoleum plates and painstakingly carved by the DKW printmakers and the artist’s studio assistants. As the project expanded, the images were photo-transferred to linoleum plates in order to preserve the original drawings. The images have been printed onto pages from various books, including early copies of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary and Encyclopaedia Britannica.

As a result of the meticulous mechanical translation of a gestural mark, the linocuts push the boundaries of the characteristics traditionally achieved by the medium. The identical replication of the artist’s free brush mark in the medium of linocut makes for unexpected nuance in mark, in contrast with the heavier mark usually associated with this printing method. Furthermore, the paper of the non-archival old book pages resists the ink, which creates an appealing glossy glow on the surface of the paper.

Senzo Shabangu, who first collaborated on a series of monotypes with DKW in 2010, has continued this year to carve himself a reputation as a master in the medium of linocut. The work produced this year continues to explore themes of power and social reality in the city of Johannesburg. In August this year these new works, along with some work produced in 2011, were shown in a solo exhibition at our Arts on Main location, entitled Amandla! Shabangu has said the following about the show:

This body of work was inspired by social context, the environment I live in, colour, fear, illusion, natural law, political power and pressure. These ideas have led me to explore the imagery of the “puppets masters”, where the city becomes the theatre set where the drama unfolds, as the master controls his puppets. The medium of printmaking linocut and monotypes allows me to explore the pressure of living in Johannesburg, by echoing these ideas around pressure in the medium itself.

Kristin Yang, an artist originally from China and now living in South Africa, was introduced to us by long-time collaborator Colbert Mashile. After spending a few days with the printers at DKW, Yang went back to Pietermaritzburg, where she is currently based, to complete her series of Instinct linocuts, based on images of her son as a new-born baby, wrapped in swaddling. The pointillist technique she has used to carve the linoleum plate has produced works that transcend the mark expected from the medium, abstracting the images in ways that allow them to float on their full bleed black background.

Maja Maljević and Stephen Hobbs have both worked on woodcut projects for the first time this year. Maljević, a painter who usually favours monotype, has taken to the medium with extreme proficiency, her style translating incredible well into the strong graphic quality of the woodblock. Two of the series of six works are exhibited in this exhibition, each work consisting of a woodblock carving printed over a block of flat colour.

Stephen Hobbs’ work DSCF/1252/1 belongs to an on-going series in which Hobbs has been exploring woodblock and linocut techniques in combination, towards a body of work to be exhibited at David Krut Projects in Parkwood in May 2013. This new series of editions indicates the artist’s perennial formal and metaphorical interest in urban structures, based on imagery of billboard scaffolding – in this case wooden billboard scaffoldings that he has come across while travelling in African cities.

Hobbs has often referenced imagery of scaffolding in his work, and here harnesses the significance of the billboard scaffolding as a matrix upon which information is placed. In DSCF/1252/1, Hobbs deconstructs the clear relationship between infrastructure and information by printing ‘random’ blocks of grey and white on top of the woodblock grid, thereby disrupting it. This work tends towards abstraction, the figurative relationship between formal elements of line, shape and colour being less clear than in other works of the series. The elusive title refers to the name of the digital file of the photograph upon which this print is based, adding another layer of ‘information infrastructure’ to the project and highlighting the complex and abstract nature of processing information in chaotic urban environments.

Hobbs plans to continue the series by reworking the woodblocks and has done a series of drawings using the state and trial proofs from the printing process to plan and think through the next versions of the prints. Once complete, he plans to cut up the woodblocks and transform them into sculptures to be included in his 2013 Parkwood exhibition.

We have also had many exciting international collaborations that have broadened the horizons of everyone at DKW in 2012. Collaborators include Jürgen Partenheimer (Germany), Alain Clement (France), Locust Jones (Australia) and Christopher Cozier (Trinidad). Sean Slemon, originally from South Africa and now based in New York also returned to the workshop to collaborate on a series of prints relating to his NIROX residency. And in the case of Diane Victor, she made a visit to our New York location where she worked with Master Printer Johee Kim of the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, creating plates that were editioned upon her return to DKW. While she was there, Victor was involved in a series of activities, not least of which her second solo exhibition, entitled Reap and Sow, at our New York location.

In this exhibition, Diane Victor’s Let Sleeping Crocs Lie originated in the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop. The large work is highly complex, containing etching, drypoint, aquatint and blind embossing to create a typically powerful work by Victor, although the social commentary is more subtle than usual. In the small ‘ash’ portrait alongside the large work, Victor has successfully translated her unusual use of smoke and ash as drawing media via intaglio techniques.

Although she is South African, her international status precedes her, and we have been lucky to work this year with renowned street artist Faith47. Four of the works on this exhibition – a monotype and three letterpress prints – were created towards her impressive installation, Fragments of a Burnt History showing at David Krut Projects Parkwood until mid-February 2013. The exhibition is her first in a gallery in South Africa, and the installation, comprised of a combination of found objects and artwork created in the artist’s studio and DKW, is drawn from the artist’s experience of growing up in South Africa and her sense of Johannesburg as a representative African city.

Also drawing on the exuberance of Johannesburg and its people, Sam Nhlengethwa’s new series of etchings, two of which are shown here, explores informal conversational situations and was produced for inclusion in his Goodman Gallery solo, Conversations. To Nhlengethwa, the work is an instinctive thematic progression from his earlier work and he describes it as a review of his previous subjects in the context of conversation – a ritualistic communion in which the ceremonial and the everyday comfortably hang alongside each other.

Alongside the DKW REVIEW 2012, we are showing a selection of works from Kentridge’s Universal Archive, the biggest on-going project to have emerged from DKW this year. These works will be on view indefinitely into the new year.

For more images from the various projects completed this year at DKW, please visit our DKW scrapbook, by clicking here.

The gallery will be open normal hours throughout the festive season, except for the public holidays. For queries, please contact Alastair or Jacqueline at the gallery – +27 (0) 21 685 0676.

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