Exhibitions

  • Place : Municipal picture gallery, Loggos - Paxos, Greece

Javier Vilató, Catalan artist and nephew of Pablo Picasso, Gisèle Deneumoustier, one of the most talented Belgian printmakers of her generation, Jindrich Zeithamml, Czech abstract sculptor and printmaker and Emmanuelle Mellot, Parisian printmaker and decorator, are the subject of very special exhibition at the Loggos municipal gallery in Paxos this summer.

All generations and styles of printmaking, black and white and color, figurative and abstract, are represented in this show. Vilató ’s and Mellot’s prints evoke the Mediterranean world through their luminosity, the sensuous beach bathers in the Catalan’s prints and the exuberant marine life in Mellot’s. A more romantic, mistier atmosphere pervades the prints - seascapes, trees, lovers’ beds - of Deneumoustier and also Zeithamml’s mysterious, softly luminous and symbolic shapes.

Emmanuelle Mellot will be coming to Paxos for an artist’s residence on 13 July. She will be running two print workshops on a new press next to the exhibition at the Loggos schoolhouse for the rest of the month, the first for children and a second one for adults.

Vilató’s prints

Printmaking - History and Techniques:

Printmaking is the process of making artworks by printing, usually on paper. Except in the case of monotyping, the process is capable of producing multiples of a same piece, which is called a print.
Each print produced is not considered a "copy" but rather is considered an "original". This is because typically each print varies to an extent due to variables intrinsic to the printmaking process, and also because the imagery of a print is not simply a reproduction of another work but rather a unique image designed from the start to be expressed in a particular printmaking technique.
A print may be known as an impression. Printmaking is not chosen only for its ability to produce multiple impressions, but rather for the unique qualities that each of the printmaking processes lends itself to.
Prints are created by transferring ink from a matrix or through a prepared screen to a sheet of paper or other material. Common types of matrices include: metal plates, usually copper or zinc, or polymer plates for engraving or etching; stone, aluminum, or polymer for lithography; blocks of wood for woodcuts and wood engravings; and linoleum for linocuts. Screens made of silk or synthetic fabrics are used for the screenprinting process.
Multiple impressions printed from the same matrix form an edition. Since the late 19th century, artists have generally signed individual impressions from an edition and often number the impressions to form a limited edition; the matrix is then destroyed so that no more prints can be produced. Prints may also be printed in book form, such as illustrated books or artist’s books.

Deneumoustier’s prints

Techniques

Printmaking techniques are generally divided into the following basic categories:

  • Relief, where ink is applied to the original surface of the matrix. Relief techniques include woodcut or woodblock as the Asian forms are usually known, wood engraving, linocut and metalcut.
  • Intaglio, where ink is applied beneath the original surface of the matrix. Intaglio techniques include engraving, etching, mezzotint, aquatint.
  • Planographic, where the matrix retains its original surface, but is specially prepared and/or inked to allow for the transfer of the image. Planographic techniques include lithography, monotyping, and digital techniques.
  • Stencil, where ink or paint is pressed through a prepared screen, including screenprinting and pochoir.

Contemporary printmaking may include digital printing, photographic mediums, or a combination of digital, photographic, and traditional processes.
Many of these techniques can also be combined, especially within the same family. For example Rembrandt’s prints are usually referred to as "etchings" for convenience, but very often include work in engraving and drypoint as well, and sometimes have no etching at all.

Mellot’s prints

Techniques represented in the present exhibition:

  • Etching (Vilató, Deneumoustier, Zeithamml)

In pure etching, a metal (usually copper, zinc or steel) plate is covered with a waxy ground which is resistant to acid. The artist then scratches off the ground with a pointed etching needle where he or she wants a line to appear in the finished piece, so exposing the bare metal. The échoppe, a tool with a slanted oval section, is also used for "swelling" lines. The plate is then dipped in a bath of acid, technically called the mordant (French for "biting") or etchant, or has acid washed over it. The acid "bites" into the metal (it dissolves part of the metal) where it is exposed, leaving behind lines sunk into the plate. The remaining ground is then cleaned off the plate. The plate is inked all over, and then the ink wiped off the surface, leaving only the ink in the etched lines.

The plate is then put through a high-pressure printing press together with a sheet of paper (often moistened to soften it). The paper picks up the ink from the etched lines, making a print. The process can be repeated many times; typically several hundred impressions (copies) could be printed before the plate shows much sign of wear. The work on the plate can also be added to by repeating the whole process; this creates an etching which exists in more than one state. Etching has often been combined with other intaglio techniques such as engraving (e.g., Rembrandt) or aquatint (e.g., Francisco Goya).

  • Aquatint (Vilató, Deneumoustier)

An aquatint requires a metal plate, an acid, and something to resist the acid. Traditionally copper or zinc plates were used. The artist applies a ground that will resist acid. Ground is applied by either dissolving powdered resin in spirits, applying the powder directly to the surface of the plate. In all forms of etching the acid resist is commonly referred to as "the ground."
An aquatint box is used to apply resin powder. The powder is at the bottom of the box, a crank or a bellows is used to blow the powder up into the air of the box. A window allows the engraver to see the density of flowing powder and to place his plate in the box using a drawer. When the powder covers the plate, it can be extracted from the box for the next operations.
The plate is then heated; if the plate is covered with powder, the resin melts forming a fine and even coat. Now the plate is dipped in acid, producing an even and fine level of corrosion (the "bite") sufficient to hold ink. At this point, the plate is said to carry about a 50% halftone. This means that, were the plate printed with no further biting, the paper would display a gray color more or less directly in between white (no ink) and black (full ink).
At some point the artist will then etch an outline of any aspects of the drawing he wishes to establish with line; this provides the basis and guide for the later tone work. He may also have applied (at the very start, before any biting occurs) an acid-resistant "stop out" if he intends to keep any areas totally white and free of ink, such as highlights.
The artist then begins immersing the plate in the acid bath, progressively stopping out (protecting from acid) any areas that have achieved the designed tonality. These tones, combined with the limited line elements, give aquatints a distinctive, watery look. Also, aquatints provide ease in creating large areas of tone without laborious cross-hatching.
A test piece may be made with etching times noted, as the strength of the etchant will vary. More than thirty minutes should produce a very dark area. Etching for many hours (up to 24) will be as dark as etching for one hour, but the deep etch would produce raised ink on the paper.

  • Drypoint (Vilató, Deneumoustier)

A variant of engraving, done with a sharp point, rather than a v-shaped burin. While engraved lines are very smooth and hard-edged, drypoint scratching leaves a rough burr at the edges of each line. This burr gives drypoint prints a characteristically soft, and sometimes blurry, line quality.
The technique appears to have been invented by the Housebook Master, a south German fifteenth-century artist, all of whose prints are in drypoint only. Among the most famous artists of the old master print: Albrecht Dürer produced 3 drypoints before abandoning the technique; Rembrandt used it frequently, but usually in conjunction with etching and engraving.

  • Burin (Vilató)

An engraving burin is used predominantly by intaglio engravers, but also by relief printmakers in making wood engravings. Its older English name, still often used, is graver. The burin consists of a rounded handle shaped like a mushroom, and a tempered steel shaft, coming from the handle at an angle, and ending in a very sharp cutting face. It is typically held at approximately a 30-degree angle to the surface. The index and middle finger typically guide the shaft, while the handle is cradled in the palm.
Burins typically have a square or lozenge shape face, though several other types are used. A tint burin consists of a square face with teeth, enabling the creation of many fine, closely spaced lines. A stipple tool allows for the creation of fine dots. A flat burin consists of a rectangular face, and is used for cutting away large portions of material at a time.

  • Woodcut (Vilató)

Woodcut, occasionally known as xylography, is a relief printing technique in printmaking. An artist carves an image into the surface of a block of wood—typically with gouges—leaving the printing parts level with the surface while removing the non-printing parts. Areas that the artist cuts away carry no ink, while characters or images at surface level carry the ink to produce the print. The block is cut along the grain of the wood. The surface is covered with ink by rolling over the surface with an ink-covered roller (brayer), leaving ink upon the flat surface but not in the non-printing areas.
Multiple colors can be printed by keying the paper to a frame around the woodblocks (using a different block for each color).

  • Linocut (Vilató)

Linocut is a printmaking technique, a variant of woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum is used for the relief surface. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a sharp knife, V-shaped chisel or gouge, with the raised (uncarved) areas representing a reversal (mirror image) of the parts to show printed. The linoleum sheet is inked with a roller (called a brayer), and then impressed onto paper or fabric. The actual printing can be done by hand or with a press. Since the material being carved has no directional grain and does not tend to split, it is easier to obtain certain artistic effects with lino than with most woods, although the resultant prints lack the often angular grainy character of woodcuts and engravings.

  • Vernis mou or soft ground etching (Deneumoustier)

This is a particular variety of etching; instead of covering the surface with the usual resin, the artist spreads a composition of warmed resin and tallow using a brush or roller, creating a softer ground.
He than places a thin sheet of paper on the plate and draws on it with a sharp pencil. Under the pressure the soft wax sticks to the back of the paper, and comes off with it when the sheet of paper is removed.

  • Mezzotint (Deneumoustier)

An intaglio variant of engraving in which the image is formed from subtle gradations of light and shade. Mezzotint—from the Italian mezzo ("half") and tinta ("tone")—is a "dark manner" form of printmaking, which requires artists to work from dark to light. To create a mezzotint, the surface of a copper printing plate is roughened evenly all over with the aid of a tool known as a rocker; the image is then formed by smoothing the surface with a tool known as a burnisher. When inked, the roughened areas of the plate will hold more ink and print more darkly, while smoother areas of the plate hold less or no ink, and will print more lightly or not at all. It is, however, possible to create the image by only roughening the plate selectively, so working from light to dark.
Mezzotint is known for the luxurious quality of its tones: first, because an evenly, finely roughened surface holds a lot of ink, allowing deep solid colors to be printed; secondly because the process of smoothing the texture with burin, burnisher and scraper allows fine gradations in tone to be developed. The mezzotint printmaking method was invented by Ludwig von Siegen (1609–1680). The process was used widely in England from the mid-eighteenth century, to reproduce oil paintings and portraits.

  • Intaglio (Mellot)

In intaglio printing, the lines to be printed are cut into a metal plate by means either of a cutting tool called a burin, held in the hand – in which case the process is called engraving; or through the corrosive action of acid – in which case the process is known as etching. In etching, for example, the plate is covered in a resin ground or an acid-resistant wax material. Using an etching needle, or a similar tool, the image is engraved into the ground, revealing the plate underneath. The plate is then dipped into acid. The acid bites into the surface of the plate where it was exposed. Biting is a printmaking term to describe the acid’s etching, or incising, of the image. After the plate is sufficiently bitten, the plate is removed from the acid bath, and the ground is removed to prepare for the next step in printing.
To print an intaglio plate, ink is applied to the surface by wiping and/or dabbing the plate to push the ink into the recessed lines, or grooves. The plate is then rubbed with tarlatan cloth to remove most of the excess ink. The final smooth wipe is often done with newspaper leaving ink only in the incisions. A damp piece of paper is placed on top of the plate, so that when going through the press the damp paper will be able to be squeezed into the plate’s ink-filled grooves. The paper and plate are then covered by a thick blanket to ensure even pressure when going through the rolling press. The rolling press applies very high pressure through the blanket to push the paper into the grooves on the plate. The blanket is then lifted, revealing the paper and printed image.

  • Lithography (Mellot)

Lithography is a technique invented in 1798 by Alois Senefelder and based on the chemical repulsion of oil and water. A porous surface, normally limestone, is used; the image is drawn on the limestone with a greasy medium. Acid is applied, transferring the grease to the limestone, leaving the image ’burned’ into the surface. Gum arabic, a water-soluble substance, is then applied, sealing the surface of the stone not covered with the drawing medium. The stone is wetted, with water staying only on the surface not covered in grease-based residue of the drawing; the stone is then ’rolled up’, meaning oil ink is applied with a roller covering the entire surface; since water repels the oil in the ink, the ink adheres only to the greasy parts, perfectly inking the image. A sheet of dry paper is placed on the surface, and the image is transferred to the paper by the pressure of the printing press. Lithography is known for its ability to capture fine gradations in shading and very small detail.
A variant is photo-lithography, in which the image is captured by photographic processes on metal plates; printing is carried out in the same way.

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