This is an A2 poster folded into A5 .
It used to worry me that by splitting my time equally between painting and printmaking in two separate studios, I was somehow diminishing my practice. Why not simply paint? Why take the trouble with printmaking? But I don’t feel this any more. In my lifetime, the more experimental and ambitious aspects of printmaking has seen the medium rise from something that was rather looked down on, especially in Britain, to one, in many contexts, that now has an equal footing with painting.
Look at the growth in popularity of Munch’s printmaking alongside his painting, the dovetailing of Hockney’s oeuvre, the work of Kiki Smith, Prunella Clough and Etel Adnan as examples of balanced practices in a variety of mediums. At the same time, the making of other traditionally more craft-based objects – ceramics, both sculptural and utilitarian, weaving and tapestry and the design and making of artisan clothing – are all forms of creativity now in mainstream ascendency. The traditional hierarchy of the visual arts seems to be breaking down.
I am keen on this state of affairs: more democratic and less gendered forms of making are back in the mix, and there is much more cross-fertilisation by artists picking and choosing their means of expression across this wider range of visual options.
For me, painting and printmaking are just different ways of making an image, requiring quite separate and idiosyncratic methods of preparation and execution. And while these forms of picture-making do require dissimilar heads and hearts, I try to cross-check painting’s freshness into the mark-making and colour intensity of my etchings and woodcuts; and I enjoy bringing the more zen-like compartmentalised staging processes of printmaking into the way I build a painting.
Perhaps it is the Albers Foundation residency, of which I am the lucky current recipient, up in snow-covered woods in Bethany, Connecticut, that has allowed me to forgive myself for my own schizophrenic double-practice image-making. Being here, I have a growing realisation that the popularity and re-evaluation of Anni Albers’ work, showcased a few years ago at Tate Modern in London, is one of the many influences in this new post-MeToo era of a much more diverse art world practice. A walk around galleries, museums and art fairs showcasing contemporary work will demonstrate the beginnings of the dismantling of the old pyramidal visual art leader board, with painting and sculpture at the apex, and various craft-based practices at the base, printmaking included.
This little grouping of selected works from the past four years on Galerie Boisserée’s stand at the IFPDA Print Fair 2024 at The Armory in New York, is by definition and necessity an exhibition of woodcuts and etchings. All of the works reproduced here are on the stand, with the exception of a few images of paintings. Their inclusion in this poster catalogue is to contextualise the prints in the wider range of my practice.
In both print and painting, I celebrate the human condition, above all in the realms of love and loss, set in the frame of an existential crisis we all face, in which the Edenic world that has succoured us has been pushed to its knees. That is the interconnected exploration in both print and painting that I am passionate about – how our lives as loving, generous, involved human beings, subject to so much hurt, can look for and even find their validity, their happiness, in a world to which we are doing and have done so much damage.
Tom Hammick, Resident Artist
The Albers Foundation, Bethany, Connecticut