Homage.

These portraits for the travelling exhibition Homage to 20th Century Artists: Pixel Portraits were made between 1987 and 1991 on an Amiga 1000 using Deluxe Paint/Electronic Arts software. They were printed on an Okimate 20 thermal transfer printer.

The idea for the series came after entering the Duchamp piece in Homage to Marcel Duchamp at the Macintosh Gallery, London, 1987. Paying homage to this artist with the aid of a machine seemed appropriate. Since my printer was small, I worked in a grid, mounting several images together. The repeated profile is taken from Duchamp’s own self portrait, With My Tongue in My Cheek.

Marcel Duchamp, thermal transfer print
Title: Marcel Duchamp.

The above exercise lead me to this series which recognizes some of the artists of this century who have influenced generations of other artists and profoundly shaped the way we see art. Since modern technology and the media often shapes and/or enhances the public perception of the personality and work of artists, computer graphics and electronic printing seemed a suitable medium for this subject. The eighties saw the development of an art market fuelled by these new technologies that allowed the packaging of the famous for popular consumption. The series allowed me to indulge in another trend: the post modern fascination with appropriation. In capturing the profiles I have used bits of their work drawn by my hand to help convey my image of them. Sometimes the portrait mimics the way the artist worked such as the Raushenberg where I use transfer, the Schwitters were collage is used, the Bartlett that combines with monoprints. The artist’s use of three dimensional painted steel wall pieces is referred to in the Stella and the proclivity for fur installations is reflected in the Joseph Beuys piece.

These computer portraits attempt to heighten our awareness to our modern concerns: our media developed personalities, our passion for consuming images and information, our predilection for style and surface.

By the end of the series I had an Amiga 2000HD and Deluxe Paint 4. The printers could now produce magazine quality without leaving the linear brush marks of the ribbon. I was still frustrated with having to mount the work on heavier paper (always archival, usually Arches). For this reason, I began photographing the screen for cibachromes as shown with the small Picasso and Duchamp. At the same time I returned to one of the oldest print techniques: the wood cut. I photocopied computer images in black and white, blew up the size and transferred it to a wood block which I then hand cut. An example of this is Francis Bacon. Changing to cibachromes and woodcuts removed some of my worries about this new technology: they were archival and reasonably light fast. I now work with a duel processor G4 Mac , an Epson 1270 printer and print on archival Kodak or Arches and Somerset watercolour papers.

Francis Bacon, woodcut
Title: Francis Bacon.
Matisse, thermal transfer print
Title: Matisse.
JasperJohns, thermal transfer print
Title: Jasper Johns.
Frank Stella, thermal transfer construction
Title: Frank Stella.

Solo exhibitions between 1989 and 1991 at The Ferry Building Gallery, West Vancouver; Wenneger Graphics, Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA; Windsor Printmakers, Windsor, Ontario; Centre Culture Franco-Manitobain, Winnipeg, MB; Grand Forks Art Gallery, Grand Forks, BC; and The Art Gallery of the South Okanagan, Penticton, BC.