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Reviews/Visual Art

Print pioneers push the artform to new places

14 July 2022

A new exhibition at Mundaring Arts Centre is shaking up the art of printmaking, and Jaimi Wright loves to see it.

‘Extricate’, various artists curated by Shanti Gelmi ·
Mundaring Arts Centre ·

As a reviewer, it is exciting to see artists and curators pioneering new approaches to artistic practice and exhibiting work. In the spirit of its title, “Extricate” is an exhibition curated by local artist Shanti Gelmi that challenges the traditional medium of printmaking, shaking up the artform into a state that is active, changing, in flux.

Shanti Gelmi's mobile hangs against the wall; many shell-like shapes dangle off strings.
Playing with the idea of variation: Shanti Gelmi, ‘Replicate’ (detail), 2022, ceramic, linen thread, wood, plastic, metal, cotton, acrylic paint, 210 x 80 x 190cm. Photo: Laura Sykes.

Presented at Mundaring Arts Centre, this collection of new works by six West Australian artists dares to venture into the extremities of printmaking, uncovering new territory and evolving the craft.

In the series Cosmologies Netherlands-born artist Eveline Ruys experiments with light and shadow on backlit archival paper to create ephemeral vignettes of nature that seem to exist within memory. Her work Hills (2022) depicts a house, entirely in shades of grey, almost plunged into shadow at the foot of a hill. Ruys has etched away at the archival paper, such that the sunlight behind the house bathes the scene in a soft morning glow, creating a simple and singular moment of beauty.

Shanti Gelmi’s Replicate (2022) and Jane Button’s Red Stamped (2022) series both play with the idea of the edition and variation in print, but not in the way we as an audience traditionally understand it.

Gelmi, a multidisciplinary artist, has created a ceiling-hung installation of monotone cones created with ceramics, linen thread, wood, plastic, metal, cotton and acrylic paint. Though largely uniform, as these objects are handmade, there is inevitably some variation in each individual result. Through this method, Gelmi explores the idea of the edition, cleverly rendering the abstract concept through sculpture.

Button has used her original stamp as a kind of “ground zero” for her conceptual explorations. Next to the stamp, 21 iterations of the print sit side by side, each the same graphic black and white print of a woman with a different red descriptor underneath; CENSORED, DENIED, HANDLE WITH CARE and more. Though the images are identical, each descriptor alters the audience’s perception of the woman, forming an intriguing commentary on bias.

A series of printed images of a woman, in black ink on white background. Under each one is a caption in red capital letters - we can read the first three - superseded, void, sold -  the rest are out of focus.
An intriguing comment on Bias: Jane Button, ‘Red Stamped’ series (detail), 2022, lino print on wood, 20 x 10cm. Photo: by Laura Sykes.

Louise Grimshaw and Isaac Huggins both push the idea of print to the extreme through installations with bleak dystopian commentaries.

Grimshaw’s 2022 work The Money Trap (pictured top) uses screen-printed stacks of bills with tantalising labels promising “LOVE”, “BLISS”, “WONDER”, and “DELIGHT”. However, the catch is that mouse traps are affixed over each of these stacks, which sit within a hamster wheel. Clearly and eloquently, Grimshaw articulates that capitalism has a price.

In his installation series Retention (2022), Huggins’s prints take issue with the digital void and data collection. Screen prints are hidden behind VHS film in the installation, its information masked but still present to be used for nefarious purposes by faceless collectors. The effect is chilling, a grim reminder of the consequences of our postmodern world.

Finally, Kristy Scaddan’s kiln-formed and found glass works in her two collections, Expendable (2022) and Vestige (2022), whisper of reconstructed landscapes and histories.

The pieces in Expendable are printed blue and black echoes of landscapes written in images, text and field notations on clear enamel. Within Vestige are details of landscapes found along the Darling Scarp, screen-printed onto found and repurposed pieces of window panes of deep amber, using the veil of the past to peer into its beauty. Favouring abstracted shapes and emotions over details, each series forms a delicate extended mosaic, elevating the landscape beyond the physical realm.

This collection provides an engaging survey of the printmaking practice as it stands today, giving a nod to traditional processes while also pushing the medium into new and exciting places. It’s well worth taking the drive to Mundaring for this one.

“Extricate” continues at Mundaring Arts Centre until 11 September 2022.

Louise Grimshaw, ‘The Money Trap’ (detail), 2022, CMYK silkscreen printing on 42gsm Kozo paper, pine, spring wire, craft paper, acrylics, MDF, 8 x 18 x 2 cm each, full display dimensions variable. Photo: Laura Sykes.

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Author —
Jaimi Wright

Jaimi Wright is your friendly neighbourhood art historian. She has just completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) at UWA and dabbles in curating, local arts writing, and 19th century French history. Her favourite piece of play equipment is the roundabout even though her stomach should know better.

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