The Layered Space of Intaglio
A Note for JIMB
The Jogja International Miniprint Biennale (JIMB), a semi-annual international event,has succeeded in positioning itself as a benchmark of the development of printmaking in Indonesia. Different from the complex and colossal mainstream biennale tradition, JIMB in an open and responsive way offers simplicity through small-scale works. This kind of biennale promotes mobility and efficiency. Since the first JIMB in 2014 it has become an event which represents the name of Indonesia in the world-wide printmaking forum. JIMB offers numerous possibilities in printmaking techniques which have not been developed by Indonesian printmakers (understandably, because of poor printmaking studio infrastructure), especially the richness of intaglio and lithographic techniques. The experience of seeing prints from overseas is extremely important in order to measure how advanced the development of Indonesian printmaking is, or perhaps, how far Indonesia is leftbehind. The journey of JIMB demonstrates that printed works are capable of penetrating boundaries and moving beyond limitations and can be appreciated as a critical analysis of contemporary cultural representations which up to now has been dominated by painting.
Works which have received particular attention in JIMB 2016 use intaglio, a technique which appeared in Europe after the emergence of the wood cut. Intaglio, popularly known in Indonesia as cetak dalam, uses a copper plate as a plane which is scraped until the area is deep enough to hold ink. I have previously stated that this technique is not especially well-developed in Indonesia, mindful that there are few works in Indonesia which have been able to overcome a number of obstacles. We will see the technical quality of intaglio in JIMB 2016 and the conceptual, aesthetic, and technical superiority of the works of Paolo Ciampini, Dimo Kolibarov, and Deborah Chapman.
The work of Paolo Ciampini (Italy) tends to combine nuances of darkness where the impressions of people and animals appear as an effect of light which places the figures in a quiet, poetic, and at the same time, nostalgic situation. While a number of figures appear as iconographic forms, others are posed in unusual photographic compositions. Anatomic sections are arranged as if they are classically inspired ‘divine’ nudes, returning our imagination to the art of the Renaissance. All of this not only displays the graphic techniques of Ciampini, including primary tonal effects, but also shows the development of his ideas. His work presents a certain level of difficulty and also demonstrates his drawing ability. It is certainly not easy work for art observers who understand intaglio to explain how this technique is used in printmaking
Dimo Kolibarov (Bulgaria) appears to be interested in layered spaces which inter-relate one place to another and one image to another. These spaces place people in abnormal situations although still referring to reality; we recognize a shore line, a labyrinth or the corner of a house with a chair. Kolibarov also questions the transition of space which changes human images into animals so that it gives the impression of an odd - if not a surrealist - event. A small child appears simultaneously in a number of works as in a psychological obsession. He hugs an animal (or a doll) which protects him from threat and from conflict between public and private spaces, between family and social spaces, between cultural and functional spaces, between work and leisure spaces. The child represents the hidden presence of something sacred.
Through mezzotint, Deborah Chapman (Canada) depicts an unbounded fantasy through unusual interactions between objects, animals and human figures. With a dark background (a distinctive feature of mezzotint) these intertwined objects develop a mysterious narrative and in other works these objects strengthen the composition – a balance to perfect her symbolism. A ball reflects a nearby shadow, a ladder is stuck in the space of a box. The impression of these shadows takes on characteristics of human territoriality with control of the consciousf and unconscious, about absence and presence, entry and exit. These expressions demarcate behavior and its limits, creating the possibility of a definition of what is inside and outside and which may be a part of a persistent sublimation.
A sheet, the result of printing, is only an impression on paper of an image which is left by another object. This is different from drawing, where the impression is left by a brush which does the drawing. Although civilization has a debt of memory to the print, when it is freed and becomes the work of autonomous artists, print-making has a place in a number of artistic phenomena, including phenomena which abandon principles of modern art - through Andy Warhol’s reproduction of brands of canned food. Printmaking appears as if it will become a part of civilization with an immense opportunity to become a critical instrument in the hands of artists.
Leiden, 29 April 2017
Aminudin TH Siregar
English translation by Jerry Chamberland
Introduction by the Organizing Committee
The Jogja International Miniprint Biennale (JIMB) is designed to show that printmaking is always open to current issues in art and social life. The chairperson of the 2nd JIMB 2016 jury is artist and gallery owner Agung “Leak “ Kurniawan. Members of the jury include printmaker and lecturer Andang Suprihadi P and curator and lecturer A. Sudjud Dartanto. The jury members enjoy substantial reputations in Indonesia and in the international art community. Changes in the composition of the jury, open and frank debates about the types of printmaking techniques which should be accepted in the Biennale, and discussions about whether or not a theme for the Biennale is necessary are all routine agenda items at JIMB jury meetings. The Jury agreed on the theme “Homo Habilis ”(the ‘handy man’. In pre-history, a cultured primate or proto-human and the first documented proto-human to use tools) to accompany our question: “How far does contemporary art and contemporary life underappreciate ‘the strength and miracle of the hand’?” It was also agreed by the jury that in the second Biennale work could be submitted using four conventional printmaking techniques: relief printing (woodcut, linocut, rubber cut, collagraph), intaglio (etching, drypoint, photo etching, aquatint, mezzotint), planograph (lithography), and serigraphy (silk screen and stencil).
After extending the deadline several times in order to provide sufficient time for submissions from abroad to reach the Organizing Committee, selection was carried out on 24 April 2016 at Kebun Bibi, an art space in Jl. Minggiran, Yogyakarta. From a total of 167 artists from 32 countries who initially registered, a total of 331 works by 147 artists from 30 countries were received by the Committee and included in the selection process. Others withdrew from consideration, did not submit work as initially indicated, or their work did not reach the Committee in time. Results of the final selection comprised a total of 77 artists: 28 from Indonesia and 49 from 27 foreign counties including Australia, Austria, Argentina, Belgium Brazil, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan Germany, Canada, France, Peru, Poland, Croatia, Malaysia, Mexico, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. One hundred and ten works were selected for inclusion in the 2nd Jogja International Miniprint Biennale (JIMB) 2016.
The finalists were selected by the Jury based on their individual knowledge, professional experience, and sensibility as artists, teachers, curators and gallerists. A balance in the compositon of participating artists was achieved between Indonesian and foreign artists. The five finalists, to be announced on 24 May , are all international artists. The three best works are by Bulgarian, Italian and Canadian artists while two artists who were awarded ‘Excellent’ are from Poland and Italy. That this year no Indonesian artists were chosen is a fact which needs to be understand and accepted positively in the context of the curent reality of printmaking in Indonesia.
In order to take account of the latest issues in the world of printmaking, JIMB 2016 has invited five guest artists, two Indonesian and three international artists, including one of the winners from the first JIMB 2014 to participate in JIMB 2016 (Lidija Antanasijevic). The artists were chosen because of their international reputations (Art Werger), important contributions as printmakers (Setiawan Sabana), introduction of popular technical innovations-Kitchen Litho (Emilie Aizier), or widely acknowledged dedication to printmaking (Yamyuli Dwi Imam). A special exhibit is also scheduled: Seven Indonesian artists: Haryadi Suadi (deceased), Edi Sunaryo, Bambang Toko, Farhan Siki, Deni Rahman, Theresia A. Sitompul and Agugn Prabowo have been invited to show their work in a dynamic presentation titled “From Traditional to Digital”. It is hoped that these new features will create greater interest in and attract more members of the public to the Biennale.
Yogyakarta, 3 Mei 2016,
“Homo Habilis” Handy Man
By: Agung Kurniawan, Jury Chairman.
Homo habilis was a cultured primate or proto-human; a being which walked on two legs and was the first documented proto-human to use tools. His capacity to use his brain had an impact on his ability to use his fingers and arms to make “tools”. Homo habilis was the first “human” to walk upright; with his long strong arms holding an ax. A being which glorified the hand is perhaps the most accurate term for him.
In the current art environment the artist’s hands are no longer considered significant in carrying on the struggles of the soul. Art can now be made with the help of artisans, machines, or other objects and intermediaries. Thus to return to the use of hands, skilled hands, is a kind of pilgrimage or perhaps also an important turning point. Art and artists return to be faced by the situation -head to head - between biological forms and the desire to express ideas. Human artists return again to the glorified hand to regenerate their ideas.
And it is printmaking that has made this possible. In the process of printmaking artists return to their basic intuitions as art workers; their capacity for skilled craft. Skill can be defined as the capacity to arrange, construct, and make objects of artistic value from raw materials. Other art forms may not be as intimed as this. Printmaking, especially work by professionals, clearly demonstrates this.
It is this idea; the concept of Homo habilis, the handy man, which is the theme of the 2nd JIMB Biennale. How the artist returns to use basic intuition to create art. It will be interesting to see; the return of the glorified hand, the handy man, the final Homo Habilis.
Returning to the Line and the Point
Looking at the work selected by the jury as the best three in JIMB 2016 is like looking at printmaking at the beginning of its development; traditional and extremely crafty. What we see is monochromatic with a number of the works using a technique as old as printmaking itself, etching. In addition to this feature another interesting point is the tendency to represent narratives. The works of the winners seem to be fragments of a story, the point of which is not clear until linked to a narrative which itself may never materialize.
In this exhibition the craftsmanship factor in printmaking is prominent, which is reflected in the theme, Homo Habilis. For example, in the work of Paolo Ciampini, microscopic lines, detail and layered with aquatint texture shows how etching or printmaking can gain popularity by showing the details of line. Notched lines become “gigantic“. These works must be viewed up close, putting them near our eyes. We may even feel as if we can smell the dampness of the paper. This composition expertly shows out how a master of line creates his work.
Indeed, prints demand to be seen up close, Even more, mini-prints like we see in this exhibition. Without regarding them up close and looking carefully we miss the esence of these works: the line and textures that shape a narrative.
The lines and textures which are seen in these “winning“ works show how work done by hand is capable of producing outstanding work: that prints or graphic art must always remain involved with basic techniques and also how those fundamental techniques are enriched by other affixations; themes or narratives.
Most of best works in this exhibition were done by international artists, which refects a decline in printmaking in Yogyakarta or more generally in Indonesia today. I think this exhibit is a warning signal for the develpment of printmaking in Indonesia. We are fortunate to have an exhibit like JIMB 2016 where we can learn a great deal from the examples of other printmakers and apply this knowledge to the future development of printmaking in Indonesia.
Notes from the Jury; A. Sudjud Dartanto
The Principal of Craftsmanship and Ideography: Can the Products of Skilled Hands Speak?
Nature and human beings: these two phenomena color the history of human creation. Nature is seen as threatening and thus must be subjected. Objects must be created to protect, and to eliminate anxiety from human existence, even to the extent of controlling nature itself. In the current post-industrial era, one of the results of human invention is constructions with the anatomy of humans themselves.
From the beginning, the products of human creativity were meant not only to change the form of natural materials and to possess functional value but were also meant to have ideographic significance, i.e. to symbolize or represent diverse ideas through various techniques. Printmaking is a branch of the visual arts rich in technique, like a stock genre in the literary domain. Take for example intaglio; from relief to digital, each displays derivative techniques as well as the potential to expand and include the possibility of developing crisscross techniques. In the case of JIMB 2016, the technical richness of printmaking has generated 331 small prints; the free expression of 147 artists from 30 countries.
With the intent of ennobling the human hand, the selection of works for inclusion in JIMB 2016 was made by weighing the principal of craftsmanship as a selection criterion. In broad terms, craftsmanship is easy to understand and the history of human invention and creation displays its own perspectives and values in regard to this. The conceptual spirit behind selection for JIMB 2016 is the desire to deconstruct the binary perspective of modernism which values art above craft, the idea that art is nobler than craftsmanship.
In the history of human creation, craftsmanship is connected to a range of values which in fact are the same as cognitive production, neither is prior to or more important than the other. From the view of the jury, I want to invite the public to engage in a discourse, to consider the reflexive question: can the products of craftsmanship speak? Based on the experience of surveying the submissions and selecting the works to be included in JIMB 2016, I am confident that they offer solid proof of the strength of the artist’s discourse; their prowess in mastering the techniques of printmaking , born from the history of human creativity and reflected in the world of printmaking itself.
Yogyakarta, 3 May 2016
The Technical Spirit in Visual Form
Choosing the three best prints from the hundreds of works submitted in the 2nd JIMB 2016 was not easy. Even more so because the works submitted were all of almost equal quality. Thus subjective factors also affect one’s opinions and effective communication amongst jury members is essential to reach a consensus and make decisions.
Artists from many part of the world submitted work which demonstrated a mastery of various graphic techniques and presented extraordinary forms. For these artists technique is the soul or spirit which drives and enlivens their visual forms. Through these techniques the artists go beyond the mere factor of appearance; techniques can overcome formalistic boundaries so that technical expressions and aspects of visual forms speak, as it were, and are no longer fragmentary and incomplete.
For an artist who has effective control of form and ideas, how a printmaking technique contributes to creating a good work does not present a problem.
In other words, someone who has the practical capacity to identify and employ a particular technique to precisely express a specific idea(s) will perforce produce good work.
In the Italian artist Paolo Ciampini‘s The Woman, the figure of a woman is depicted in a sepia-toned etching which goes beyond the visual impression presented photographically. Space and contrast in the work give it a romantic meaning. The unity of the idea, form and technique cannot be separated. Strong technique dominates the form and idea.
In the intaglio print of the Canadian artist Deborah Chapman titled Murmure, surrealistic shapes are delicately represented. Space as a stage performance; the plasticity of imagination and the placement of small forms with refined contrasts show her mastery of ideas, forms, and technique, visually expressed. The role of technique, detailed and specific, enlivens the work.
In Cycle The Diary Of A Child – The Golden Fish, the Bulgarian artist Dimo Kolibarov also demonstrates extraordinary technical ability in etching and aquatint. He surpasses the use of digital techniques to clarify visual problems through the use and arrangement of colors in unique shapes and contemporary ideas. Representational figures are rendered with extraordinary technical accuracy. Looking at this work, viewers will certainly shout with praise, not only because of the visual aspects, but also because of how those visuals elements are presented through extraordinary technical mastery.
The three wining works discussed above show how strong technique and attention to detail emerges as the spirit of the works themselves.
Yogyakarta, 3 May 2016
Andang Suprihadi P.