Sunday, July 24, 2016

Bill Murphy's Haunted Enchantment of Staten Island

For those uninitiated into the world of printmaking, there are techniques one must master before one can truly portray an image to arrest our gaze and make us say, 'Oh My God, how did the artist do That!' Well, I am here to tell you that New York printmaker Bill Murphy is one of those artists. His work is simply…Amazing. It is not so much the technique of his work that astounds the viewer, although his line is often perfection itself.

In today’s art world full of all manner of the conceptual, and flashy installations, I truly appreciate an artist who knows how to draw. Murphy’s lines, Every Single One of them, have presence and purpose in his compositions. There isn’t an erroneous mark anywhere. His lines come out of the cosmos and coalesce into an object, or depict the air itself. His study of the Manhattan Bridge shows us how he sees the subject and how his lines come together to construct the image. It’s simply terrific.

The mood of Murphy‘s haunting pieces are stark, lonely, watchful of a place where no one moves about, but we know someone had been there before us to create buildings, bridges, houses and ships. He describes a place where people have lived and lived well. They have left something behind for the next generation to live with, to admire and let us think of the past generations that toiled and worked and helped weave the fabric of our existence and how we live today.

Murphy walks through his environment on Staten Island and chooses places that are near and dear to him; the shipyards, the streets of his neighborhood, the vistas he sees across the river looking toward New York City, Brooklyn and Coney Island. He shows us abandoned shipyards, ships anchored in dock, a lonely little alley between abandoned warehouses at night and emptied out industrial yards. All of his chosen places are charmed and enchanted in a way that similarly described compositions by Edward Hopper would leave us cold and unengaged. Murphy’s work engages us and draws us into his world, and we are left begging, pleading, to see more.

There is something reminiscent in Murphy’s work of the light found in Canaletto and Rembrandt’s prints. Murphy analyzes his objects, and draws them with an equal measure of objectivity and passion, but the light in his works sing and bring us an understanding of the subject on a spiritual level. These prints are not mere descriptions of places, but timeless encounters with ourselves; they help us to mark our place in time.

One can’t easily forget an encounter with Murphy’s work. It leaves a lingering taste in our mouths, the quiet but distinct sound of horns can be heard from boats in the harbor and one can hear the sounds of cars driving over glistening, rain-soaked streets; all of it leaving a lasting impression burned into our eyes, and into our memories.

This artist’s work is an eloquent testimony of the place he loves most. His personalized view of Staten Island translates to us, via his line and ink, and makes us want to make a pilgrimage to these noble sites. If we do, maybe we can truly experience the wonder of such a place, and find a little bit of printmaking heaven.

Bill Murphy was born on Staten Island, in New York, in 1952. He attended Brooklyn College, the School of Visual Arts (B.F.A.), The Art Students League, and Vermont College (MFA). He has taught art at Wagner College on Staten Island, New York.

His work is included in several public collections, including:
The British Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, The Denver Art Museum, Hofstra University, The Library of Congress, The New York Historical Society, The New York Public Library, and the Syracuse University Museum.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Calling All Printmakers: Global Matrix IV is Coming!

Hello everyone,
I was asked to post this announcement for the upcoming Global Matrix IV International Print Exhibition, sponsored by the good folks at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana, in the good 'ol U.S. of A! Please see the information below and send your entries through the entry information link provided. As all of you know, I do not normally promote printmaking competitions, but this has been a consistently great competition and gives all of you a chance to show your stuff with some pretty badaxx printmakers! Deadline is coming in September, so get your plates ready and start inking them up!

GLOBAL MATRIX IV: International Print Exhibition.

Deadline for entries is Friday, September 2, 2016. Dates of exhibition are January 9 through February 18, 2017, after which it is intended that the exhibit will then travel through 2018. Open to all artists worldwide over the age of 18. Entries must be original fine art prints in any printmaking media, including artist books. No photography or offset photo mechanically reproduced work will be accepted. Entries should not exceed 44 inches in paper dimension. Jurors will be Kathryn Reeves, Professor of Art & Design at Purdue University; Kimberly Vito, Professor of Art & Art History at Wright State University; Sean Caulfield, Centennial Professor of Art & Design at the University of Alberta; and Craig Martin, Director of the Purdue University Galleries. Selections will be made from a review of digital images in the form of jpeg files (maximum dimension of eight inches in image size – maximum resolution of 300 dpi). No entry fee will be charged. Purchase Awards and Awards of Merit will be presented at the discretion of the curators and sales will be encouraged. Artists may submit up to five (5) images of original works completed in the last three years (20013 – 2016). Entries must be made on the official entry website: For more information on the competition or the traveling exhibition, contact: Craig Martin, Director, Purdue University Galleries, Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts, 552 West Wood Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2002, (765) 494-3061 or

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Idyllic India through the Prints of Harendra Das

Harendra Narayan Das (1921 –1993) was born in Dinajpur , in Bangladesh. Das received his diploma in Fine Art from the Government College of Arts and Crafts, in Calcutta. Also known as Haren Das, was a highly respected Indian printmaker. He is most remembered for the drawing technical mastery of his images.
Das followed a tradition of printmaking that developed in northern Calcutta in the mid-19th century. He studied under Ramendranath Chakravorty, who had been influenced by the Japanese style of Ukiyo-e prints. Das perfected his techniques, producing multi-colored prints of enormous technical skill.
Throughout his career Das remained committed to British academic and Victorian ideals that included concepts of perfection and traditionally perceived beauty. Unlike artists such as Somnath Hore, who reacted with brutal directness to the horrors of the 1943 Bengal Famine, Haren Das remained focused upon his vision of a rural ideal. However, his bucolic images paid continuous homage to the hardworking people of India’s farms and villages.
Das became a teacher at the Government School of Art in Calcutta, he also taught at the Government College of Art and Craft of Calcutta.

His printmaking work has been exhibited and recognized in India, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Argentina and Chile. His works are in the collections of the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.
Das' work has the same eternal feeling when I look at artists from the South Pacific and from 19th c. japnese prints. There is a timeless quality about the landscapes, and the people inhabiting his compositions. Nothing is harried, nothis is rushed. People take their time and do their chores with care and precision. Das creates for the viewer a place where time stands still, and we can enjoy the scene with complete serenity. Take a journey through India through his prints and tell me if you do not feel transformed to another time and another place. You can't, you just can't.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Cool Tat Cat Figures in Rona Green's Prints

As I was recently perusing the vast and ever-wonderful world of printmakers, I recently came upon the hip, cool and quirky work of Australian artist, Rona Green. The initial impression of her work is simplistic, minimal, but something in her work tugs at you. Maybe it is the pose of her anthropomorphized figures, the slouch, or the odd mixture of endearing sweetness seeing a rabbit or cat, but she flips our view of such cuddly creatures and covers them with tattoos. The ‘come hither’ look of the cat with a pistol tat in his belt looking like Michael Hutchence of INXS, or Jim Morrison of the Doors is priceless.
Born and raised in the port city of Geelong, Australia, Rona Green went on to study art at La Trobe University in Bendigo and Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. She completed a Master of Fine Art degree in 2012 at Monash University. She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Her fantastical figurative prints, poppets, paintings and drawings explore ideas about identity. She is interested in the potential of the human body to be a vehicle for story, by means of anthropomorphism and body decoration. She creates hybrid animal/human characters: loners, misfits and social outcasts. They take the forms of cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, etc.
These print portraits leave no sense of place with their simple drawn line, contrasted black and white figures standing out from the subtle-colored spare background. We engage with the figure’s stare and wonder where they have lived and what kind of life they’ve lived.
Green has expressed her fascination with ancient Egyptian art, historical figures, science fiction, B-grade movies, secret societies, tattoos, subcultures and animals. Her tattooed figures show their experiences and interests, and come across as tough, punk-ass rock stars, all with a sort of doe-eyed naivety.
Of note, Green has won several awards: the Geelong Print Prize, Swan Hill Print Acquisitive Award and Silk Cut Award Grand Prize. In addition, her work is represented in over numerous Australian and international public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia.
Green's cool characters reflect today's generation of people who choose to change their appearance, and do a little cross-genetic dressing as well. They aren't confined by any constraints of birth, but choose freely to ornament their bodies in symbols that express their experiences.
This last image is a picture of Green(center) with two artists at a reception. Clearly, they emulate Green's figures..or rather, inspire Green's work.