Barbara Zeigler and I had the pleasure of curating the Canadian section of the 22nd International Biennial of Graphic Art in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 1997. One of the most prestigious international exhibitions of graphic art, the Ljubljana exhibition takes place every three years at the Gallery of Modern Art and other locations on the grounds of Tivoli Park.
The artists we chose for Ljubljana – Sean Caulfield, Karen Dugas, Libby Hague, Liz Ingram, Davida Kidd, Bill Laing, and Julie McIntyre – combined technical excellence and poignant and evocative subject matter. In addition, their works were also, in some sense, indicative of new directions in print media. Perhaps the most striking thing about the pieces selected was their interesting combination of media and the relationship between the techniques used and the ideas explored.
Sean Caulfield’s small-scale pieces are delicate and beautiful visual “poems”. In his use of lithography, screen printing and etching, he combines sensitive line work and subtle colour harmonies and shifts in surface texture.
Top – Libby Hague Bottom – Karen Dugas
In the works of Karen Dugas, mysterious psychological monodramas of intense moments are depicted in which female figures seem to emerge out of or disappear into their timeless interior environments. The juxtaposition of the spatially rich photo-etched areas of her images, to the flatness and sheen of the screened elements, echoes the feeling of dislocation found in her work. In circular diptychs of soft, muted pastel colours, Libby Hague offers us lithographs of seasonal landscapes that are also meditations on mortality. In contrast, Liz Ingram, in her large scale mixed-media intaglio prints, explores conditions of Being and Nothingness. This is accomplished with energy and intensity, through playing off the physicality of boldly etched marks against qualities of temporality evoked through photoetched images of water.
Davida Kidd’s combinations of etching, chine colle and photography give us absurd, grotesque fairy tale or kafkaesque figures in peculiar surroundings which appear to contemplate the constraints on human free will and action. While Davida’s pieces investigate human psychology, Bill Laing’s screenprints rework traditional themes in a new and engaging way, combining digitised patterns, computer generated imagery and motifs of figures in gardens drawn from what appear to be early engravings. Finally, Julie McIntyre’s photoderived combination lithograph, screen and relief prints use overlapping and layering of images which have a filmic, speedy quality to convey the feeling of a headlong rush into space.
Left – Davida Kidd right – Bill Laing
Bottom – Julie McIntyre