Sets and Series: IFPDA – Fine Art Print Fair 2020
An American-born artist, Clark Fay spent most of his career in Paris and London, capturing urban scenes of the interwar period in the two European capitals. While in Paris, Fay worked extensively with master printer Edmond Desjobert, and his work became influenced by the German artist George Grosz.
In this portfolio of lithographs with chine collé, Fay depicts the seedy underbelly of urban nightlife, and does not shy away from the explicit scenes he encounters there. Parisian showgirls are depicted semi or fully nude, their lecherous patrons melting away in the background, like afterthoughts. The women in these prints are far more interested in one another than the men surrounding them, who are shown more as caricatures of dowdy capitalists rather than fully-fleshed figures. The showgirls are sexualized, interracial, and their demeanor imply lesbian desire — all of which made for a shocking tableau in the 1930s. This series presents the Parisian demimonde as a place of gritty decadence and liberal social customs that certainly do not reflect the more restrictive attitudes of the daytime Parisian beau monde.
These lithographs with chine collé display touches of bright color, with the charcoal shading and crisp pencil lines creating an overall tenebrous, netherworldly atmosphere. Chine collé is a printmaking technique where the image is printed on a very thin piece of paper (often Chinese or Japanese paper), and simultaneously bonded onto a heavier paper during the printing process. This allows the artist to print on a delicate surface, and in Fay’s prints, this technique reveals nuances in shading and tone, as well as adding a luminous quality to the lithographs.
George Miyasaki’s contemplative Ripple prints invite the viewer into a deep, hypnotic viewing experience, as the artist abstracts the silent and startling effect of a ripple across still water. Each work in the Ripple series begins with a nearly imperceptible center — a relatively faint sliver of light — which expands in concentric, elliptic outlines radiating from it. Miyasaki’s subtle play with scale, and slow, incremental gradation in form and color — ranging from lavender to red — comes together in quiet, powerful compositions that seem to vibrate off the sheet of paper. As typical for Miyasaki, he explored the electric tension of the Ripple imagery in both painting and prints, taking full advantage of the strengths of each medium, and applying his exceptional eye for subtlety in different, and innovative ways. Each print in this series was made in small editions.
An artist who has built a career in fashion, film, and celebrity portraits photography since the 1970s, Jean Pagliuso has long been fascinated by poultry and raptors, an interest sparked by a childhood breeding Bantam Cochins chickens with her father. The unusual subject matter of chickens, and later owls, began as an elegy to her late father, and she has traveled throughout the US in search of the best of these rare flamboyant birds. She flies them out to New York City where she puts them up in hotels with their wranglers before photographing them with a medium-format Hasselblad camera in her Chelsea studio. She emphasizes the plumage, stance, form, and countenance of each bird on a minimal background. The birds, which are equal parts expressive and distinguished, take on anthropomorphic qualities as Pagliuso ascribes a sort of humanness to each one. She has photographed more than 30 breeds of chickens and owls, from Sebrights to Spangled Hamburgs.
Integral to these works is Pagliuso’s traditional printing process. The artist experiments with darkroom techniques, printing each photograph by hand in her studio. She carefully applies a silver gelatin emulsion onto handmade Thai Mulberry papers before exposing the negative. These carefully considered images are simplistic and minimalist in form, creating painterly photographs.