Wednesday, 21 August 2013 15:59

Exhibition of monotype prints garnering wider attention

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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The creative collaboration between Canadian master printmaker Gordan Novak and artists from across the world, which is currently on display at the Art Gallery of Swift Current (AGSC) is receiving increasing attention from other galleries in the province.

The exhibition — called “Monotype: The China workshops – Part 1” — is at the AGSC until Aug. 31. An afternoon public tour and coffeehouse evening with Novak and gallery curator Kim Houghtaling will take place Aug. 30.
“We already know that other galleries across the province are interested in having exhibitions,” Houghtaling said. “They’re seeing the point: here is an international show of artists that worked in a very special way.”
The monotype prints were created in November 2012 when Novak participated in the Zanghjijaije international oil painting art workshop in China. He and fellow Canadian artist Anong Migwans Beam found some large sheets of glass, which they used to make several monotype prints.
“They did a painting on the glass with oil paint or ink and then they would rub the paper onto that painted surface and then peel it back,” Houghtaling explained. “The result was this wonderful tactile quality of light with all the advantages you have with the printmaking process, but you have only the one image that was produced.”
The other artists at the workshop were interested in what they were doing and it started a spontaneous collaboration between Novak and 16 artists from Canada, China, France, Germany-Austria, Japan, Slovenia and Switzerland.
“This was a personal dynamic with the artists and the printmakers they were working with and it was really in good fun,” Houghtaling said.
“They decided they had all these prints and spontaneously made a show where they tacked up the papers all around the studio buildings and celebrated this whole production.”
The presentation of the monotypes in the exhibition space at the AGSC is done in such a way to imitate the spontaneity of that printmaking event in China.
“So you feel like you are in a studio and these are examples of the work that has resulted,” he said.
Houghtaling became aware of these monotypes shortly after Novak returned to his studio in the small hamlet of Admiral, south of Swift Current.
“We visited him in Admiral and looked at them and decided we would like to show this wonderful moment of art making that had happened on an international scale,” he recalled.
This exhibition is unusual because it will normally be a few years after a body of art work was created before curators evaluate and select specific pieces for presentation.
“The gallery was right in the moment and had the opportunity to get on board and try to present this,” Houghtaling said.
It will happen again in the spring of 2014 when the AGSC presents the second part of the monotype printmaking workshops. That exhibition will show the results of the process that will take place in October 2013, when Novak returns to China for another collaboration with artists.
According to Houghtaling, this two-part exhibition is an interesting and dynamic way to view art.
The first monotypes were created as a discovery during a moment of spontaneity by the artists, but the next prints will be the result of a planned event.
“It is an opportunity to create a portfolio with a slightly different premise, not the same spontaneity,” he said. “Instead a little bit matured experience. They will have thought it and re-thought it again and again since Gordon is at the heart of it, returning to a similar scenario but creating something that we think will be very new.”
Novak has produced prints with well-known artists from across the world during his career. He continues to work on an international level and he is currently in Croatia. He has been operating Novak Graphics Studio in Admiral since 2009.
“His home based studio in Admiral is an ideal scenario for him,” Houghtaling said. “Other artists live with him there and work there. … We’re real pleased to get to know him and have him in our area.”
Novak and Houghtaling will lead a free afternoon public tour of the exhibition Aug. 30 at 4 p.m.
They will again be the tour leaders during the coffeehouse evening at 7:30 p.m., when there will be a $5 cover charge for the reception with hors d’ oeuvres, a cash bar and a live musical performance.

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