Frans Masereel Centrum residency - Artist's Book

The final 7 drypoints in the artist's book:

Beautiful World is a limited edition of seven original hand-made artist’s books as a special extension of a larger edition of fine art prints by the same title. Each unique book contains seven original drypoint engravings and seven Afrikaans poems (with English translations) by contemporary South African author Johann de Lange. Hayden Proud at SANG (The South African National Gallery in Cape Town) wrote the concise artist’s biography and the preface is penned by well-known Cape Town psychiatrist Dr. Eugene Vorster.

All artworks and text in Beautiful World are hand printed in the etching and silkscreening studios at the Frans Masereel Centrum during a three week residency awarded to the artist by the Vlaamse Overhijd from 13 - 28 January 2011, in Kasterlee, Belgium.

All the drypoint engravings in this book are printed, signed, stamped, titled and dated by the artist on 100% cotton acid free Hahnemühle 230gsm archival etching paper. The red end papers in each book are sheets of 220gsm acid free Fabriano Elle Erre. Graphicraft in Cape Town using black bookbinding linen individually made the cover for each book. The silver leafed logo on the front cover and title page was also created and embossed by Graphicraft. Each individual artist’s book is presented in a red cotton dust jacket.

Finally, an original silkscreened artwork on brown 2mm Fun Foam is bound into the back of each book. All books are numbered and signed by both authors.

Press release:

Beautiful World  - a series of 7 drypoints
Medium: Drypoint, laser cut and laser engraving
(on Plexi – glass and not etching plates)
Date: 2010
Plate size: 42 x 24cm
Edition: 10 with 8 artist’s proofs to be bound into artist’s books

Beautiful World deals mainly with dystopia and is a further exploration of the artist’s previous series of works entitled Cold Sweat. In my work, time and space appear to dissolve, and an air of conflict erupts. This is often a direct result of a personal aim to calm and disturb at the same time - drawing parallels between the two extremes of utopia and dystopia. There is always a secondary narrative in my work. The primary narrative has symbolic authority and aesthetic promise, although the mysterious secondary narrative exists in order to provoke thought in the viewer.

In many ways I aim to ‘rewrite’ history in my work and the dominant sense of self-awareness that informs most Western art practices. I am trying to present contemporary issues such as Difference as timeless, by situating my vocabulary of images and themes in an organic flux of dreams, history, news, commercial detritus, hyper-reality, and unvoiced feelings and forces of biological nature/desire.

In my exhibition Beautiful World I am trying to reconcile two seemingly irreconcilable driving forces of contemporary consciousness – the desire for Otherness and the fear of losing  autonomy. Herein lies the connection between my random imagery – borrowed images from contemporary culture, digital images, my own photographs and autobiographical imagery. I am always aiming to juggle these sometime disparate images to make them correspond without collapsing into one particular style, mode of thought, emotion, or art-historical reference. Through the juxtaposition of Self and human nature I am attempting to create a new language of images appropriate to the psychological realities of our age.

In the light of the above I am greatly inspired by ideas about Dystopia and especially how living in a malfunctioning society affects all human beings, irrespective of sex, gender, race, class or creed.

I am aware that my current Dystopian subject matter could evoke unexpected emotions, however, on a more personal level, I value the way that I often don’t “fit in” and it is my own uneasiness with persistent mainstream patriarchal heterosexual ideas about the world which mostly inspires me to make art. This is especially true of the context in which I work and live, and I am aware that the situation elsewhere might be different. It is my goal to fundamentally challenge my viewers not only about art, but also their personal (dis) comforts about gender, sexuality, sexual orientation, body politics, desire, geography, place and memory.

Initial sparks for Beautiful World are to be found in the works of Joel-Peter Witken and Robert Parke Harrison who cleverly manipulate their theatrical photographs. Compared to my own work, Witken and Parke Harrison’s concepts reveal a similar mood/feeling, but within a very different context. Another influence is the fantastical, almost photographic, digital prints, etchings and engravings by American artist, Peter Milton.

My works for Beautiful World are darker than ever before - quiet but unsettling - without the sometimes-literal element in some of my earlier works. However, I have re-introduced a lyrical element into this body of work and am slowly moving away from a specific exploration of gender and sexuality.

Cape Town, January - 2011