Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lynn Newcombe's Metal-Lovin' Prints

At first glance, Lynn Newcombe's etchings make a bold splash of black expressionist/constructivist line. The Vermont artist's compositions are solely comprised of black line versus white space, and little else. And gosh darn it, they're some mighty fine prints!

As her website attests, Newcombe works interchangeably between her metal sculpture and her etchings. The linear components of the sculptures vary a bit, but the etchings are on task with describing buildings, bridges and other partially constructed pieces, which could be inspired by building block maquettes, or a Richard Serra sculpture.

The piece above is called "Jabberwock" and resembles an abstracted bridge tower. These  prints' closest visual relative  would appear to be the mammoth bridge and stone etching series of Piranesi.

There's a similar love of scale and massive weight of the subject as portrayed in Piranesi's work, but Newcombe takes them a step further toward 20th c. art and they compare very well to the brushwork of a certain  painter named Franz Kline. So much so, in fact, that they made me want to go back and look up some of Kline's paintings and revel anew in the power of his swift, decisive stroke.
I am also loosely reminded of Jim Dine's etched tool series with his history of mark-making and re-working the plates. There is a visible connection, but one finds Newcombe's forcefully rich black strokes even more seductive and engaging within their confined spaces.

Newcombe bends the drawn, etched line as well as she compels her metallic pieces. The woman loves metal. She says of her etchings..."My work is classical, in the tradition of Rembrandt, Piranesi, and Degas....My interest lies in creating what one may call layered prints, prints in which the viewer has the sensation of looking into and through the blacks."
Yes, we do see through her blacks in their varying densities, and we see depth and strength and a person who know how to handle line both as a spatial tool and as a record of human movement, touch and presence.    I want for nothing in seeing them, and  implore her to make more for our viewing pleasure. 

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