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Printmaking and all its possibilities

By John Olsthoorn on April 7, 2015

You don’t have to drive all the way to Montreal to see dozens of stunning prints from nine leading Quebec printmaker artists. About an hour drive from downtown Ottawa and almost a stone’s throw from Beau’s Brewery you will find the Print and beyond exhibition currently running at the Arbor Gallery – Centre for Contemporary Art in Vankleek Hill.

The exhibition features work by nine artists from three Montreal area printmaking workshops giving an interesting overview of contemporary printmaking in Quebec.

“The work gives a glimpse into the exciting world of printmaking and all its possibilities through nine unique visions,” emphasized Mimi Ramalho, curator of the show. “My objective is to present an art form that is not necessarily well known, but one that is accessible and its imagery so diverse.”

What makes this exhibition one to see is that it presents many different printmaking techniques including woodcut, etching, aquatint, collography as well as mixed media and digital elements. And that makes it hard to pick out favourite pieces as each is so unique.

One of the pieces by Marie-Ange Brassard did jump out at me in a subtle way. It is a relief print titled “La Série Jaune, variant III/IX”. The background is silvery grey, delicate, and it holds the main image in place which appears at first glance to be random squiggles of black ink with a blotch of yellow. Looking at it for a time, different figures start to appear, intentional or not. During my visit at the gallery, I went back to this piece several times and each time saw something different. Here it is:

brassard la serie jaune

Brassard is a multidisciplinary artist who uses a variety of techniques but what struck me was the spontaneity in her pieces in this show. Tucked into a different corner of the gallery, two other relief prints, two variations of Brassard’s “Juste”, almost mirror each other. Tall, narrow and bolder, the backgrounds are darker, almost black. Again, we find the same seemingly random construction of lines and blotches of color with interpretations emerging before your eyes.

Print and beyondAround the gallery’s fireplace (pictured right), several of Ingeborg Jürgensen-Hiscox pieces are displayed, and most notably above the mantle is the woodcut print “Urban Landscape: Daybreak U/P”. It is both complex and simple and captivating to look at as it seems to bring you back to a different time. Jürgensen-Hiscox is a master of the woodcut and creates wood block prints that are unique and intimate.

The exhibition also includes some of the tools artists use to create their work, and the exhibition book provides information on the techniques and insight into each of the artists represented.

The workshops represented at the exhibition include Atelier Circulaire featuring artists Wah Wing Chan, Judith Klugerman, and Béatrice Sokoloff; Atelier Glypto featuring Marie-Ange Brassard, Nicole Doré-Brunet, and Ingeborg Jürgensen-Hiscox; and Atelier Zocalo  featuring Micheline Bertrand, Denise Lachapelle, and Claire Lemay.

The exhibition runs until May 3, 2015.  Arbor Gallery, located at 36 Home Ave. in Vankleek Hill, is open on Wednesdays from noon to 1 pm, and on Thursday to Sunday from noon to 4 pm.