60 years of tradition and rebellion in print


Democracy and accessibility fuel the flames of innovation in this exhibition, which spans 60 years of British printmaking and is taken entirely from the Pallant House Gallery’s own collection. Remarkably, almost all of the roughly 100 works on display were acquired thanks to teachers Mark Golder and Brian Thompson, whose donation of £ 225 per month since 2001 has enabled the gallery to acquire 500 prints by David Hockney, Barbara Hepworth, Lucian Freud and Lubaina Himid, to name a few.

The exhibition illustrates the spirit of free exchange between tradition and rebellion, individuality and collaboration that made artists’ prints such fertile ground in the post-war period and beyond.

Screen printing trade associations made it the ideal vehicle for revolutionary artists of the 60s and 70s, and Eduardo Paolozzi tests the limits of art in serigraphs of pasted designs that bear no trace of the artist’s hand. .

Hockney uses elements found for a different use, combining them with designs etched into deeply personal images that reflect the artist’s experiences as a young gay man. Curator Louise Weller hung the exhibition with great acuity: placed next to works by her comrade RB Kitaj and their tutor at RCA Julian Trevelyan, Hockney’s prints nod to the chains of influence between generations, but also among artist groups.

More than any other medium, printmaking requires and thrives on shared effort and expertise, with long-standing and often close relationships developing between artists and master engravers. Created at the end of the 1950s, Curwen Studio and Kelpra Studio in London precisely sought to promote this dynamic: it was a device that encouraged innovation, especially in the introduction of color, as in hand-colored prints. by Howard Hodgkin from the 1960s.

Lubaina Himid, ‘Birdsong Held Us Together’ (2020), Lithograph on paper

In an interesting spark of serendipity, Curwen Studio moved to St Ives before opening its London studio. Barbara Hepworth was one of many St Ives artists who first experimented with printmaking, her close-knit community evoked in a room of works by Hepworth, Patrick Heron, Sandra Blow and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, among others.

Abstraction gives way to figuration in the next room, the technique of tactile abrasive engraving bringing raw emotion to the experience of the hospitalization of John Bellany, where he evokes Christic suffering in a self-portrait from 1988 .

The main gallery is devoted to the last 20 years, in works that showcase a diversity of techniques and experiences, drawing on the art of the past while attacking it. Towards the end, the circle comes full circle: Lubaina Himid’s “Birdsong Held Us Together” (2020), refers to a shared and positive moment during the pandemic, in a lithograph commissioned by the recently relaunched School Prints series.

As of April 24 (01243 774557)


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