Under Pressure

February 2 - Friday, March 15, 2002


Under Pressure
Sol LeWitt,Five-Pointed Stars, 1996,
relief print on tinted handmade paper, 
36 individually printed stars, 
54 x 54 in. overall.
Under Pressure: Prints from Two Palms Press explores the collaborative relationship between artist and master printer. The exhibition highlights the innovative techniques that developed when David Lasry, founder of Two Palms Press, invited different artists to work with him on respective projects. Works by Pedro Barbieto, Mel Bochner, Chuck Close, Tara Donovan, Carroll Dunham, Sol LeWitt, David Row, Jessica Stockholder, and Terry Winters are presented along with several printing plates and photographs of the artists at work in the studio. The selection of individual collaborators is based on Lasry’s aesthetic interests as he himself is an artist. Under Pressure will be on view at the University Museum of Contemporary Art, University of Massachusetts Amherst from February 2 through March 15, with an opening reception on Friday, February 1 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Originally intending to have artists come for a brief two week "visit" to the print shop, Lasry soon realized that the projects were more of a process than a fixed event. The collaborators work for "as long as it takes" to pull the idea from the press. It is not unusual for a new printing process or technique to be invented along the way, and the endless possibilities available through computer technologies often provide the artist with the means to work toward surprising and new results. Each artist's distinctive skills and experience enhances the collaboration, creating a working environment of discovery, challenge and constant evolution.


Chuck Close 
Chuck Close, Self-Portrait 1
1999, relief print with embossment 
on blue/grey Twinrocker handmade 
paper, edition of 50, 25 x 20 inches, 
photography James Dee,
Two Palms Press and the artist
Chuck Close immediately grasped the potential for embossment when he encountered the hydraulic press at Two Palms Press. Working from a self-portrait ink drawing, the only drawing Close has made since his illness in 1998, the image was deeply laser burned (engraved) into a plate. The necessity of having to deeply engrave the drawing in the plate for heavy embossment and the delicacy of the marks ruled out the traditional use of etching acids to create the printing plate. The same self-portrait image was executed in two different manners to create two embossed/relief prints that made the characteristic marks which constitute the images for which Close is well-known.

Sol LeWitt's grid of 36 Five-Pointed Stars (1996) is part of a set of seven such grids representing various star shapes. As is usual with LeWitt, a simple formula grows more complicated as it materializes. Seven types of stars, from three to nine points, are printed in all of the possible two-part color combinations of white, black, and gray, as well as red, yellow, and blue with the paper being tinted one color and the aluminum relief plate inked another. The result is seven groups of 36 similarly starred panels aligned in six rows of six. Aluminum plates were industrially manufactured and run under enormous pressure through Lasry's hydraulic press, producing a deep relief in the soft, thick paper. Because of the somewhat watery, translucent tints, the compromised colors are akin to LeWitt's wall paintings. 

Jessica Stockholder's monotypes (unique prints) are made using "linoleum, a sweater, some wire, a hose, just stuff from my studio." Stockholder's fascination with materials is evident—she is a great observer of the innate capacities of ordinary stuff—and the systematic nature of the ways she uses them emerges only after prolonged consideration. The result of the interactions among sequences of simple positive and negative is complex. 
Under Pressure: Prints from Two Palms Press was organized by Alexandra Muse and Pamela Auchincloss Arts Management. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition and is available at the University Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibition is on national tour and its presentation at the Gallery's venue is supported in part by funds from the UMass Arts Council.



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