Saturday, 13 September 2014


Alan Cristea Gallery, Cork St, until 7 October

 Lithograph & copper plate etching with hand painting on Arches paper. Paper & image 119.4 x 91.8cm,Edition of 11

Jim Dine is an American painter, sculptor, illustrator, performance artist, stage designer and poet. But if you didn't know this, you could be forgiven for thinking that his main gift and lifework was printmaking.  He was born in 1935 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He made his first print when he was 17. He is now 79 years old.  He says:

You've got to care about prints, woodcuts, lithographs and etchings.
You can't care about whether they sell or whether anyone feels the way you do about your images.
I keep going because, like the woman who swallowed the knives and nails, I can't stop.
I've put my life into it.
White Owl (for Alan)1995, Cardboard intaglio on Arches cover white paper, Image 143.5x74.3cm, Edition of 20
Here we have a flower and an animal print. An amaryllis in a pot is a popular gift. The plant has thick juicy stems and leaves, and waits coyly until it is ready to burst out into lavish, ravishing flowers. It's as if a stage curtain has been drawn back  to display a spectacular flush of glowing crimson.

I like the owl too, because it has presence. It fills the canvas, it is still, it is 'there'. Owls more than punch their weight in myth and fairy tale. They pass on wise messages to the godly; they feed the needy; by their flight path they show the way, thus rescuing the righteous. Above all, they  have this absurd notion of turning normality upside down, sleeping while it's light, alert and active in the dark.

At the Alan Cristea Gallery in Cork Street are not one, but two exhibitions of his work. The other  is  A History of Communism, an extraordinary series of new prints made from lithographic stones found in what was previously a socialist art academy in the German Democratic Republic. I hope to return to these later.

A Printmaker's Document by Jim Dine is part catalogue raisonn√©, part memoir and part artist’s book:

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