The relationship between photography and painting, once so clear, has become increasingly blurred. In between sits the ubiquitious word, "print".
As long ago as the Renaissance, hundreds of years before the invention of photography, prints were an important part of many artists' output.
Woodcuts, where the wood was cut away to leave standing lines and areas that could be inked, were the first pictures that could be printed. Then came engravings, where the ink was caught in lines cut out into a copper plate. Later came etchings where the lines in the copper were made by the action of acid. All were ways for the artists' ideas to be repeated.
Prints were a large measure of the work of such artists as Durer and Rembrandt and were sold in fairs in Europe.
Another aspect of print-making was that painters such as Rubens hired specialist artists to make etchings or engravings of their paintings so that the work could reach a wider audience.
It was this function that led to the popular use of the word "print" to mean the sort of reproduction of famous works on sale at any frameshop. Artistic circles set their faces against such processes which reproduced the image but not the surface or the original scale of the work. In the 20th century there was a return to making woodcuts and engraving and etchings, using the expressive qualities of these media in defiance of modern technology.
In a parallel move, photography became accepted as an artform.
This is a prologue to
discussion in Saturated Skins, a special exhibition at the Vavasour-Godkin
Gallery in High St.
Digital printing is used to make the print, and this emphasises the high colour values. Each image in this show is 2m by 1m, rather like a scroll since the thin film is stiffened by a bar at the top and bottom. Each work is limited to an edition of three.
The format makes for a livley, accessable exhibition with a variety of style.
Jennifer French observes, photographs and prints the impact of two hard surfaces, one horizontal and rigid and the other reflective.
Reflections also play a large part in the effect of John Lyall's image of the museum in Berne, Switzerland, where the glossy floor and an installation that features the Matterhorn say a lot about the nature of museums in general.
In contrast there is an odity. Henry Symonds, whose painting has become increasingly abstract, here shows a realistic image but one that is strange. It shows a garden gnome set in the dry grass of the high veld alongside a prickly plant; real but surreal.
The rich possibilites of this print medium is shown by the extraordinary excercise in blue called Sea Bed, by Noel Ivanoff. He is at home with the glossy surface and membrane-like quality of the surface.
There is also room in the show for wry wit as in the two birds in spring that sit on springs in the print by Denys Watkins and the mountainous eruption that is also an icecream by Bill Riley.
The work closest to the advertising origon of these prints is Branding by Simon Ingram. It combines his exploration of words as signs seen in his recent exhibition with the experience of a window seat in an aircraft.
This exhibiton, hovering
somewhere in the clouds of effects of photography and painting, is more than
a demonstration of the possibilites of modern variations on old concepts of
expression.This is art now.