Highlights of the International Print Biennale, Newcastle

18Oct11

The second International Print Biennale is on in Newcastle this Autumn. I enjoyed my visit in early October. The exhibition takes place over three venues, the Hatton Gallery, the Laing Art Gallery, and Northern Print.

I started off in the Hatton: here I was impressed by the large scale woodcuts of Liz Boast, “Consequences”; large simply cut, honest, almost naive blocks have been cut. In many ways these are the some of the most traditional prints on show but they are ambitious in scale, lively and original. The blocks are interchangeable so that a variety of strange beings can be created. Her work makes a striking counterpoint to Barthelemy Toguo‘s “Terrorist”. A number of statements are displayed on the wall. I particularly like the giant stamp sculpture, used to create one of the prints, that is perhaps a comment on the heavy handed nature of the media.

There is a strong feeling of curatorial concerns across the biennale. At the Hatton each gallery space works really well, showing a collection of works by each artist, at the Laing there is a dialogue with the collection which focuses on apocolyptic disaster, natural, man-made and potential. I enjoyed the way that the works take print as a starting point, but are presented as works exploring ideas, rather than process. Of course I witnessed a number of people wondering how particular pieces were made, and this is a key aspect of printmaking, where it straddles the divide between craft and art (in the same way that writing or film and photography do).

Also at the Hatton I enjoyed Jennifer Price‘s “Dodge” white car print hovers unsettlingly over the heads of us. The direct print from a car is impressive, although not completely original, (I remember seeing something similar in Printmaking Today 10 or more years ago). Stephen McNulty‘s “Gloves lost series” of screen and flock was beautiful. Each glove was transformed in a ghostly metaphor for the lost object, the owner and the dislocation of things that should be together.

Debi Keable presents illusory nature twigs screenprinted onto transparent acrylic to create a bare cold forest accentuated by lighting casting complex shadows on the surrounding space.

Over at the Laing, as I said there was a sense of the apocolypse. Farniyaz Zaker‘s “Earthly Paradise” mixed media on Persian rugs was a winner. An interesting couple of objects, worn Persian rugs have been printed and worked in to. There is a sense of something passed, a time gone by, a tradition lost. A comment on the destructiveness of war and terrorism in defining place and people.

Katsutoshi Yuasa “Pseudo Mythology #3”, in the other gallery, dominates the space. A gargantuan ship is on it’s side, destroyed by the power of nature. It has the feel of a large scale blow-up of a newspaper cutting, possibly recording a terrible tsunami. People are fascinated by this work, also a prizewinner. The scale belies the process of woodcut. On close inspection each mark can be seen to be made up of a series of incisions, which from a distance become a tonal blur.

These artists show alongside the excellent Etchasketchathon Series by the Chapman brothers, which recalls a colouring book you would not like to let the children see.

The exhibition continues at the rather excellent Northern Print gallery in Ouseburn.

My only concern with the bienalle is that I found it quite difficult to navigate. There is a rather wonderful street poster by Parra, which I saw in a variety of colours at the venues but I would suggest a designated route between venues would aid flow of visitors, and this could be better signposted. They could learn from the Liverpool Biennial and Folkestone Triennial, both of which employ interesting methods of audience traffic: last biennial the wolf roadsigns, and in Folkestone the spraypainted seagulls on the pavement.

Barthelemy Toguo

Barthelemy Toguo

Debi Keable

Jennifer Price

Hatton Gallery

Katsutoshi Yuasa

Katsutoshi Yuasa

Stephen McNulty

Stephen McNulty

Farniyaz Zaker

Farniyaz Zaker

Parra

Parra

Sunju Lee

Nicholas Devison

Debi Keable

Gethin Wyn Jones

Northern Print Gallery

Liz Boast

Liz Boast

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2 Responses to “Highlights of the International Print Biennale, Newcastle”

  1. My favourites here are Nick Devison, Katsutoshi Yuasa and Liz Boast. I really like what people are doing with black and white. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Hello – I’ve just stumbled across this… I am Debi Keable. Thanks for including me in your post! I am currently working on more work like this. It was unfortunate the work couldn’t be shown in its original concept. The ink I use is phosphorescent so glows in the dark with the right lighting. I love what I do and am trying get into making for light Festivals. I recently created a large installation for the Freedom Festival in Hull. (City of Culture 2017) You can see my work at
    https://www.facebook.com/DebiKeableArtist/timeline

    Thanks again! Debi


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