FEATURED ARTIST :: Cleo Wilkinson / New Zealand
Cleo Wilkinson achieves a velvety softness with a fairly monochrome canvas and focuses on the shadows that give form and substance to her subjects. Added text intertwines and adds interest.
|My interest lies in the power to evoke feeling and memory with the subtle nuances of light that the richness of the mezzotint can uncover. Although I specialise in the mezzotint print technique I continue to paint and sculpt using shadow to define objects as they are brought out of darkness, just as a thought would emerge from ones memory.
I am an explorer of twilight zones and ambiguous spaces. Much of my recent work explores ambivalence - suspended . Moments of isolation and dislocation, stillness and silence where introspection and alienation are consciously engaged and interrogated.
I find people waiting and lingering in darkness caught between expectation and anxiety to be the most haunting imagery. My source of inspiration comes from memory and subconscious which is rearticulated into my own visual language . It stretches my investigation of ideas into solitude, symbolism of thought and the human condition. I like to suggest not prescribe - it is what is missing in the shadows and is suggested in the darkness that provides the greatest potential for me.
The mezzotint is known as “ maniere noire” ( black method) it demands patience ,consequence, and precision. It is an extremely labour and time consuming process; and an intensely intimate one - for this reason there are only a relatively small number of artists who practice this print technique worldwide today. The technique is particularly meditative. It is about disappearing into the overall experience of the work and being totally absorbed in the process The metal plate – working with the materials to a great extent is what the image is about. It offers resistance to my will and forces me to think and rethink my way to solutions.
To maintain the highest standards I personally perform all the creative and technical aspects of my work. I do all this work personally without the use of an apprentice or assistant. I have invented and designed my own roulette that creates a rare stippled pattern that can not be achieved with any other tool currently on the market.
One of the few artists working today in the mezzotint printmaking technique Cleo Wilkinson graduated with an honours degree from Elam Art School (Auckland University) New Zealand.
The mezzotint process was invented by Ludwig Von Seigen in
Amsterdam in 1642. It is a laborious and time consuming
technique for creating a print and primarily for this reason
it is not widely used today.
The mezzotint has rightly been described the most complex
of all art forms. Mezzotint is among the most physically
demanding mediums in art, once tried and quickly abandoned
as “too difficult” for example by the great printmaker MC Escher.
A copper or zinc plate is “rocked” with a curved, notched blade
until the surface is entirely pitted. At this stage an inked plate
would print a rich uniform black. The artist then uses a scraper
or burnisher to flatten the raised parts, a little for dark greys,
a lot for light greys, completely for white (after inking and wiping,
the plate holds no ink where it is smooth).
The result of this process is an image emerging from pitch black
“nothingness” a true analogue to creation. Outlines are simplified
by absence of line, while substance is rendered with a virtually
infinite range of tonal subtlety.
No other art can give birth to such magnificent areas of light and
shade as this purely tonal medium. Imagery is permeated by mystical
elements derived from the unique spatial relationships of the
mezzotint medium. This technique demands a long involved process
the artist can be very closely working on a plate for at least 100
hours before even starting to print the image.
> visit artist's website
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