Saturday, November 22, 2008

Stinger Editions Master Printers at the FOFA (Concordia University)

Betty Goodwin A Burst of Bloody Air 2003 printed by Christopher Armijo

Concordia University's various galleries are always a treat to visit. They feature thought-provoking artists, both cutting edge famous and unknown students. The fofa, in particular, run by the faculty of the Concordia's Fine Art program, curates worthy exhibits. In conjunction with Stinger Editions, the print center of Concordia, curators Judy Garfin and Cheryl Kolak Dudek, are featuring the work of master printers Christopher Armijo, Matthew Letzelter, and Cheryl Kolak Dudek printing works for David Elliott, Janet Werner, Naomi London, Robert Racine, Pierre Doiron, Francois Morelli, Ed Pein, Betty Goodwin, Roland Poulin, Barbara Steinman, and even Anne Carson. Tying together these works is the theme Concerning Sisyphus.

Sisyphus is an interesting choice, since he was a bit of a wild man prior to his afterlife. The gods punished him with eternally pushing a rock up a hill, at which point it rolls back down and he must start again. The boredom and monotony of Sisyphus' life became the subject of an existential essay by Camus (The Myth of Sisyphus) that celebrates the mundane of life. The final words are, "One must imagine Sisyphus happy."

While I do not easily connect the works on display to the theme, I can certainly relate to the joy found in the tedium of printmaking. For the same result (or at least, the possibility of approximating the same result), one must repeat the process of re-inking each time. And printmakers, though no less talented or creative than artists in any other media, are often forgotten or treated as hick second cousins to oil painters and bronze sculptors. Hmmm... I find this curious since Andy Warhol, Picasso, and Rembrandt all produced prints, just to name a few. Perhaps this is because print work is a collaboration between the artist who creates the work and its design and the master printer who gives that work physical body through the press. Nonetheless, these less familiar artists of the print world produce works of great beauty and timelessness.

In terms of a collection, the works are extremely diverse and represent a range of printing techniques (monoprint, lithograph, screenprint). I am more drawn to the figurative work of Betty Goodwin and recognizable objects of Pierre Doiron, in contrast with the abstractions of Roland Poulin and the erotic playfulness of Ed Pien. But this is a matter of taste, rather than quality. Hopefully this show will put this art form with its wide range of applications more readily in the public eye.

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