PRISM PRINT INTERNATIONAL

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Previous exhibitions -

Spodki Gallery, Bialystok

Clifford Chance, London

Embassy Tea Gallery, London

Goto Gallery, Tokyo

Spazio Ostrakon, Milan

Yanagisawa Gallery, Urawa

Mile End Art Pavilion, London

 

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Articles related to printmaking and PRISM

Articles

The Naked Print by Nigel Oxley, Master Etcher/Printer

Recently I decided to re-mount one of my prints that had slipped in its frame. The image features a large central dark textured mass created by much overprinting. Under glass this area, although obviously black, lacked the physicality and nuances of grey that are present in the print and also more importantly that are distinguishing features of the original concept. The image removed from the frame and without the mediation of glass was a revelation with much greater presence.

Prints are often described as “flat work”, a term that is more insult than information. The surface of a print is rarely flat even if the physical changes are minute. Neither is the paper upon which the image sits – the choice of which is often fundamental to the work. Paper choice is an integral element of both the concept and process and therefore often subject to much thought, from simply “is it suitable for the process?” to more complex questions of surface and choosing the right white. I was once introduced to a well-known painter, with whom I was about to start a long collaboration, who gave me a sheet of paper he thought we should use. I took it and put one corner in my mouth, moistening it to test whether it was a waterleaf paper , meaning that it was not suitable for damping. He looked incredulous and said “I’m not working with a paper pervert!”. I showed him the limp corner and explained that it would not survive the damping necessary to print his etchings. He agreed with my choice.

Every print has a unique surface whatever the process, whether using a screen bench, a press or a baren, or the result of a deep or shallow etch, a fine or coarse stencil, heavy or light brushing, but much of this becomes homogenised when behind glass. Lost too is the sweet smell of ink and paper.

This exhibition of unframed prints allows for the full appreciation of the real quality of mark and colour, paper texture and even aroma. Look closely to discover subtleties of tone, look obliquely to engage with the play of light across the surfaces and enjoy the naked print.

Nigel Oxley August 2014

Detail: Toshihiko Ikeda - The Comfortable Coexistence – Etching 2013

FOREWORD from the catalogue to the 'PRISM 4 - Tokyo' exhibition at the Goto Gallery, Ginza, January 2015, written by internationally known Japanese print artist Professor Tetsuya Noda (also in Japanese below English text)

THE FOURTH PRISM PRINT INTERNATIONAL

By Tetsuya Noda

Prism Print International celebrates its fourth exhibition. The founders are Nigel Oxley and John Read, former fine arts classmates at the art college/university. The first show was held in London in June, 2013. Read did research on communication theories at the university master course and after that he had been active as designer as well while teaching at Cambridge Art College where he had studied. Meanwhile, from towards the end of 70s, Oxley worked at Kelpra Studio as master printer on many artists etchings/copper-plate printing such as Jim Dyne, Barry Flanagan. However, when he started teaching at London Metropolitan University, he was lucky enough to meet David Skingle, head of the Print Course. As the educational principle developed with Skingle, he taught students advocating that printworks is a ‘research through print’- prints are the work of study through printing plates. That means Print is a picture from/by plates. It goes without saying that Read has also supported from his theoretical standpoint. This is to ring an alarm at the time when digital printing is at its heights. It was very sad that Skingle died suddenly before the first show but the other artists who sympathize with this principle joined in, which led to the international growth to become the activity of Prism. It is said to be aiming to clarify the individuality, common features and diversity according to the country and region.

Around that time, Etching artist, Toshihiko Ikeda, was studying at East London Printmaker Workshop with the overseas scholarship of new emerging artists from the Japan Cultural Agency. Ikeda immediately attracted its members’ attention with his unique style and was allowed to become a member, taking part in this Prism shows from the onset. Owing to Read’s close relationship with Japan, the Prism held the second show at Yanagisawa Gallery in Urawa followed by a show in Milan.

This is the fourth one, arranged by Ikeda with Japanese participants and another artist who took part in the show at Yanagisawa Gallery. I wish this group show a big success.

Professor Noda's Foreword in Japanese

プリズム・プリント・インターナショナルの4回展

野田 哲也

プリズム・プリント・インターナショナルは今回で4回目を迎える。結成をしたのは美術大学時代、絵画科の友人ナイジェル・オックスレイとジョン・リード。第1回展は2013年6月にロンドンで行われた。リードは大学院では情報理論を研究、修了後はケンブリッジ美術大学で教鞭をとりながらデザイナーとしても活躍していた。一方、オックスレイは70年の終わり頃からロンドンのケルプラ・スタジオのマスタープリンターとしてジム・ダイン、バリー・フラナガンなど多くのアーティストの銅版画制作を手がけた。その後、ロンドンメトロポリタン大学の版画研究室で教鞭をとるようになったが、そこで主任のデイビッド・スキングルと出会ったことは、またたいへん良かったのではないかとぼくは思う。彼はスキングルとの教育方針としてPrintworks is a 'research through print'— 版画は摺ることを通して研究した作品である、と唱えて学生にあたった。つまり版画は版の絵というわけである。リードが理論的な立場からもこの主張を支えたことはいうまでもない。そして、デジタルプリント興隆の時代にひとつの警鐘を鳴らしていたのである。第1回展を前にスキングルの不慮の死はたいへん悲しいできごとであったが、同調する他の版画家がグループに加わり、これを国際的に広げてプリズムの活動とすることとなったのである。そして国、場所の違いによる個性、共通点、また多様性を明確にしてみたいというのであった。

ちょうどそのころ、銅版画家の池田俊彦が文化庁の新進芸術家の海外研修制度でイースト・ロンドン・プリントメーカーズ工房で研修をしていた。池田はその独特の作風によってグループから注目を受け、直ちにグループのメンバーとなり、ロンドンでの第1回展からこのグループの活動に参加している。そして、日本と関係の深いリードによって二回展を浦和の柳沢画廊、三回展をミラノで行っている。

今回は4回展を迎えるが、日本側の出品者は柳沢画廊での出品者一人を加えて池田があたった。このグループ展の成功を祈りたい。

Introduction from catalogue to Goto Gallery Show, January 2015

 

We at Prism are delighted to be showing in Japan once again, and at the Goto Gallery in Ginza, Tokyo, for our fourth international exhibition. We are deeply indebted to Mrs Goto for this wonderful opportunity, and also to Professor Tetsuya Noda, the noted Japanese print artist, for his part in making this exhibition possible.

We are very grateful to our colleague Toshihiko Ikeda, Prism’s representative in Japan, for his hard work in managing this event and bringing his knowledge and insight to assisting in curating this show. Ikeda-san is well known in Japan both as a print artist and as a teacher. While in London he was introduced to the Printworks group and his extraordinary work has subsequently found a place in all the Prism exhibitions to date.

It is fundamental for Prism that our exhibitions are curated by practising artists. The unique sensitivities and insights of those who actually work with materials themselves are the cornerstone of what distinguishes - and motivates - the curatorial ethos of a Prism exhibition.

Prism follows, to some extent, some recent reformulations of what artists do and how art is presented. The so-called ethnographic turn of some years ago shifted artistic conceptions away from the object towards its spatial context, from art-as-art to art-as-cultural-production considered from a cultural anthropology and ethnographical perspective. With a shifted self-consciousness of what it is they do, artists became de facto ethnographers observing and describing the world. They would come to partly-replace professionals in museum culture, and the cult of the celebrity curator appeared. Professionals lost some of their earlier authority and authorial privilege, (due mostly to the crisis in representation in that field), ‘white spaces’ would emerge to cater to the idea of a gallery (nominally) without flavour, and artists’ productions would themeselves begin to resemble displays in ethnographical museums with their vitrines and exhaustive comprehensiveness.

On the end of this ‘turn’, Prism finds itself on the one hand as a form of ‘mobile interactive forum of ethnographical art production’ in which the show is the ultimate ‘work’ and in which the contributors selected are part of its composition, with Prism as the ‘collective artist’. Our principal aim, though, is to situate the viewer as the spectral ethnographer/anthropologist, thus closing a circle of cultural evolution. We have confidence in our audiences to bring their own intelligence and natural or educated insight into ‘reading the artists through experiencing the works. This is our purpose of cultural exchange.

Whilst unavoidably taking an authorial position, we strive to make the function of the exhibitions a comparative critical platform for international, culturally distinctive artists, reducing our curatorial footprint where possible so that the diverse artists speak with their own ‘voice’ rather than through the subjective mouthpiece of a curatorial ‘master.’ We remove the layers of ‘pre-digestion’ to make the encounter raw, not ‘cooked’.

We continue widening and deepening our international range, bringing contained but relevant slices through time and place. In the late-modern perspective, we accept the impossibility of being truly without cultural bias, yet we proceed as if we were whilst making every effort in explicitly revealing our own ‘inner workings’ so that viewers may apply their own equally unavoidable biases, overlooking what we cannot avoid for the sake of our good intentions - and the very fine work to behold.

J. D. Read

Christmas 2014

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Instagram: @prismprint

Foreword to the Prism 5 London catalogue by Julia Beaumont-Jones (former Print Room Manager, Tate Britain)

PRISM's exhibitions, which have taken place since 2013, have proved to be a vitally important means of cultural and creative exchange, at once encompassing the works of British, European and Japanese artists. PRISM thus represents distinctive traditions and developments in printmaking. Yet, at the same time its artist-led focus could be said to break down the divide between Oriental and Occidental artistic cultures: with each exhibition project emerges a revitalised incarnation of the PRISM collective as over time participants enlarge their cross-cultural interests through sharing conceptual, expressive and technical ideas. They do so in the studio via international residencies and master-classes and through the very act of exhibiting together – each artist serves as curator, self-selecting and displaying their works with an inevitable concern for creative affinities and discontinuities in the group, be they formal or narrative. Thus 2015's London-Tokyo collaboration is the rich, extraordinary sum of a longer-term creative project that has for several years gestated, cross-fertilised, evolved and gathered momentum.

Julia Beaumont-Jones

October 2015

From Prism 5 Catalogue, by John Read, co-founder of Prism Print International

Introduction

Prism Print International acquires its name from the image of a prism splitting white light into seven colours; we try to expose what it is about the works of artists from differing cultures which is distinctive and valuable and to reveal it in our exhibitions.

In the short space of three years of showing in various countries Prism has found both an audience for this approach and also an expanding connection with many artists who wish to be shown in this light. Because we show what the artists choose, rather than imposing some arbitrary thematic limitation, we occupy a somewhat unique position.

Our non-profit approach creates the difficulty of continuing economically but it does grant us the coveted freedom to show as we wish. Finding funding is now a major preoccupation for most art enterprises, including artists themselves. This situation is likely to get harder with declining support channels and increasing numbers seeking sources of cash, so it is important that art groups have distinctive approaches, and often that these are socially useful from the funder’s perspective. 

The distinctive path Prism takes lies in emphasising cultural exchange as the core part of our activities, since although all of the principals are artists, we are deeply engaged in cross-cultural matters as well. This is significant in that we are not simply levering people out of their cultures onto the ‘world stage’; rather, we look in the other direction at what it is those individuals are already immersed in which is unique and valuable to world culture generally. We believe that is what needs to be preserved and promoted through our exhibitions. 

It is a cornerstone of Prism’s constitution that every culture is equally valuable and should be given an equal place at the feast of world arts. This can be empowering for the artists and, in a way, legitimising. People from dominant cultures can unintentionally imply that the work of smaller groups is considered interesting but essentially backward or of niche importance, whilst thinking they are actually promoting them. That is why we place all our artists in the same way, side-by-side, and give equal coverage to all. 

The current exhibition at the Embassy Tea Gallery, Bankside, is our fifth – after London and then Urawa, Japan in 2013, Milan in 2014, and Ginza, Tokyo earlier this year. We have made many new contacts and are delighted to be able to bring more Japanese artists to London, as well as new friends from the Continent who provide a vital injection of contrasting ideas and techniques, and stimulating responses to being alive today.

Significantly, we think it is now even more possible to recognise certain characteristics in the works indicating the critical survival of indigenous attitudes expressed through the foil of personality and the spirit of art, delivering a welcome confirmation that while our necessary shared humanity can be found there, our important differences can remain intact as well.

We are greatly indebted to many: to the artists across the globe who have kindly entrusted us with their work (and somewhat their reputation); to those whom we have convinced of the value of our project and have most generously contributed financial and other assistance towards its aims; to the numerous ‘others’ who bear the burden with us – partners, friends and providers of services; and to the art-going public for supporting us by visiting, and sometimes buying.

Being an artist can be an isolating experience, but with the exhibition comes the final proof of what we are doing as it comes to life in the sudden influx of other hearts and minds. We sincerely hope you will enjoy this exhibition!

John Read (exhibition curator and Prism co-founder)

Prism will be at the IXth Engraving Exhibition in the Santa Maria della Pietà in Cremona, Italy, September 24 - October 29, 2017!

Text in Polish from WOAK Bialystok website

Wojewódzki Ośrodek Animacji Kultury w Białystoku zaprasza na wyjątkowy wernisaż! Wystawa "Zjednoczeni w różnorodności" to 127 prac graficznych 33 artystów z 8 krajów: Japonii, Holandii, Chin, Włoch, Anglii i Polski, Korei Południowej i Brazylii. Wernisaż 9 czerwca o godz. 18:00 w Spodkach WOAK, ul. św. Rocha 14. Wystawa czynna do 9 lipca.

 

Od artystów:

„Dzięki zaangażowaniu Wojewódzkiego Ośrodka Animacji Kultury w Białymstoku oraz naszego kolegi Tomasza M. Kukawskiego, PRISM dostał szansę zaprezentowania stale powiększającej się kolekcji prac współpracujących z nami artystów w wyjątkowej przestrzeni Galerii Spodki w Białymstoku. To dla nas wielka szansa pokazania grafiki z całego świata, w tym z Polski, w sercu wspaniałej polskiej tradycji graficznej.(…)

Mamy też zaszczyt poinformować Państwa o udziale w projekcie dwóch artystów sztuki graficznej wielkiego formatu, którzy zgodzili się zaprezentować swoje prace na tej wystawie i udzielić nieocenionego wsparcia naszemu projektowi. Są to Stanley Jones z Anglii – znany na całym świecie ze swojego wkładu w rozwój i sukces Curven Press w Londynie oraz z ogromnych zasług na polu litografii – oraz Tetsuya Noda z Japonii – nieoceniona postać dla rozwoju współczesnej grafiki japońskiej, artysta, który nie tak dawno miał wystawę w British Museum i którego najnowsza seria „Diary” zdobyła międzynarodowe uznanie. Profesor Noda jest naszym przyjacielem i nieustannie wspiera Prism, między innymi przez swoje powiązania – to dzięki niemu nawiązaliśmy współpracę z niektórymi z naszych japońskich artystów oraz Galerią Goto w Toky czy London Metropolitan University. Jesteśmy podekscytowani tym, że przy okazji międzynarodowej wystawy witamy w naszym gronie uznanych artystów, którzy z pewnością pogłębią oddziaływanie całej ekspozycji, składającej się z prac grafików na początku swojej kariery oraz takich, którzy mają już na swoim koncie sukcesy. Wszyscy z nich przyczynili się do artystycznego dialogu, który prowadzimy ze światem. To dla nas duży krok naprzód, tym ważniejszy, że zbiegający się w czasie z naszą wystawą w Białymstoku. (…).”

(z tekstu Johna Reada do katalogu wystawy)

 

Grafika współczesna to obszar o wielkiej pojemności, znany ze świetności swojej historii. Artyści PRISM, zarówno w sztuce, jak i życiu każdego z osobna są świadomi tego dziedzictwa. Jednocześnie pragną swobodnie poruszać się w szerszej, międzynarodowej przestrzeni.

Wystawa 127 prac 33 artystów z 6 krajów stanowi niebywałą okazję do bliskiego poznania i doświadczenia energii mniej znanych, a równie ważnych kultur poprzez język obrazu, który wielu z nas może wydawać się znajomy, a nawet uniwersalny. Lecz to tylko złudzenie. Odkąd Internet stał się najbardziej wpływowym globalnie medium, wyraźnie zarysowała się potrzeba identyfikacji tego, co nasze, aby zbalansować często przytłaczający powab powierzchownie uniwersalnego internacjonalizmu. W trakcie czterech lat wystaw w różnych krajach PRISM odnalazł nie tylko publiczność rozumiejącą to podejście, ale także artystów, którzy chcą w ten właśnie sposób być prezentowani.

PRISM PRINT INTERNATIONAL wziął swoją nazwę od pryzmatu rozszczepiającego światło na siedem kolorów. Obrazuje to ideę, która uświadamia, że każda kultura jest równie cenna i powinna zajmować poczesne miejsce przy stole światowej sztuki. 
Sztuki, która daje możliwość mówienia wszystkimi językami naraz w poliglotycznej wizualnej formie, którą charakteryzuje uniwersalność, przeciwstawiająca się ulotności współczesnych trendów. Dzięki artystom przeszłość może mówić do przyszłości, utrzymując przy życiu sekretne rzeczywistości naszych dawnych kultur, nawet, jeśli czujemy puls tych nowych. Na wystawie znalazły się również prace trojga polskich artystów: Tomasza M. Kukawskiego, Joanny Piech i Marcina Białasa. Stanowią one interesujący przykład zróżnicowania koncepcji, stylów i technik.