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DKW: New Editions 2008 features the most recent intaglio prints and monotypes created by artists Deborah Bell, Colbert Mashile, Diane Victor and David Koloane in the David Krut Print Workshop (DKW). The show gives an excellent idea of the range of techniques that artists and printmakers are experimenting with at DKW and also aims to demonstrate the enormous value of collaborative printmaking.

These four artists are no strangers to printmaking but what these new works demonstrate is a firm grasp of the range of possibilities available to them and a superb confidence in adapting these techniques to their subject matter.

The ethos of DKW emphasises collaborative printmaking where the artist works alongside skilled printmakers who not only support the artist technically but are also involved in the choices that go hand-in-hand with creating a work of art, offering an additional critical eye during the creative process. The printmakers bring with them an understanding of the workshop space: they know the capabilities of the printing presses, what options the materials have to offer and are skilled in intaglio, relief and monotype techniques. This environment and way of working facilitates an exciting and often unique way of producing art and has resulted in prominent and innovative South African art.

The Artists

Deborah Bell was born in 1957 in Johannesburg. She obtained her MAFA at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1986.

Bell is a leading Johannesburg painter and sculptor whose work is created in dialogue with multiple worlds, texts, histories and consciousnesses. She is also well known for her collaborative projects with William Kentridge and Robert Hodgins. Bell’s drawings, etchings and monumental clay sculptures possess a kind of ‘mystical godliness’ which comes from deep within her. Her art making is a spiritual practice in which the role of the artist is to ‘co-create the world, to materialise what exists and has existed for all time.’ Inspired by museum objects from ancient civilizations, including African, Babylonian and Egyptian, her work incorporates multi-layered references to past and present worlds. This connection to ancient sources and memories is linked to her spiritual beliefs and how she defines herself as an artist in Africa, working with materials such as clay and bronze.

Colbert Mashile was born in Bushbuckridge, Limpopo, in 1972. In 2000, Mashile completed his BAFA at the University of the Witwatersrand. Thereafter, he experimented with printmaking and in 2003 began an ongoing collaboration with the printers at the David Krut Print Workshop. Although his techniques have changed throughout the collaborations, Mashile has finally found his niche in the loose and free style of working produced by a dremel machine and a painterly intaglio technique of spitbite. His latest prints bring together a range of interests but in particular focus on the role of religion in society. The interesting tension in the works is a result of the juxtaposition of the sinister and the ironic and Mashile’s use of text, and the odd creatures that inhabit these prints are at once fantastic and familliar

Diane Victor was born in Witbank in 1964. She obtained a BAFA at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1986 where she majored in printmaking. Victor is currently lecturing part-time as well as being a practicing artist. Diane has exhibited widely in South Africa and abroad and her work is held by several important collections, including Iziko South African National Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Victor’s steady output over two decades, her dedication to technique and form, and her courageous and often humorous representation of the world around her have made her one of the most important of contemporary South African artists. She is a draughtsman of the first order and her unflinching satire comments on the art traditions to which she is heir and the fragmented absurdity of South African history. The works in this exhibition are testament to her obsessive attention to detail and her interest in figuration and realism. The prints offer a humorous comment on “women, like Pandora, who want to know too much” and are an idiosyncratic interpretation of the well-known stories of Lot’s wife who was turned into a pillar of salt, Bluebeard’s wife who couldn’t keep out of the room that housed the grisly work of her husband’s pathology, and Eve who could not resist the temptation of the forbidden fruit offered to her by Satan.

David Koloane was born in Alexandra, Johannesburg and received his art training at the Bill Ainslie Studio from 1974 to 1977.

In 1977, he co-founded an art gallery in Johannesburg. During1982 and 1983 he was the Head of Fine Arts at the Federative Union of Black Artists (FUBA), which acts as an agency for black artists, creating an awareness of their work in South Africa and other foreign markets. A recipient of a British Council Scholarship, Koloane was also awarded a diploma in Museum Studies from the University of London in 1985.

Koloane’s work has been shown in South Africa, Botswana, France, United States, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. He has participated in many solo exhibitions as well as group shows. Koloane’s work is included in museums and private collections, among them, the National Museum and Art Gallery, Botswana, and BMW Germany.

While the prints in this exhibition show familiar scenes from Koloane’s oeuvre, they demonstrate a new economy of style. The usual dense layering of lines in his work is pared down in these monotypes and etchings, resulting in works of extraordinary power. He demonstrates a superb understanding of colour not by layering several colours on top of one another, but by choosing a smaller palette and applying colour in washes across the surface of the line drawings. Exeprimentation with carborundum also adds a dramatic new texture to the work. Collectors of Koloane’s work will find these new prints both startling and satisfying.

The Printmakers

Jillian Ross grew up in Canada and graduated in 2002 from the University of Saskatchewan with a BAFA. She began working at DKW in 2003, and has been managing the workshop since 2004 and printing full time since 2006.

In the past several years, Ross has established herself as one of the foremost printmakers in South Africa. She specialises in intaglio techniques and monotypes and has also experimented with pronto plates, carborundum, linocut and woodblock techniques.

She has worked with printmakers in South Africa and New York, completing a residency at the Lower East Side Print Shop in New York in 2007. Ross will be working with Master Printer Jack Sherriff at 107 Workshop in Bath, UK in June this year and Master Printer Phil Sanders of Robert Blackburn Studio, NY in August.

Ross has collaborated with artists including William Kentridge, Deborah Bell, Wilma Cruise, Penny Siopis, Sandile Zulu and international artists Suzanne McClelland (USA), Michele Oka Doner (USA) and Sheila Pepe (USA). Some of the prints created in these projects have been featured at spaces like the Joburg Art Fair, International Print Centre New York (IPCNY) and Edinburgh Printmakers in Britain.

Niall Bingham grew up in KwaZulu-Natal and completed his BA (Visual Art) Honours degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2005, where he majored in printmaking. Whilst at university, he had the opportunity to go to Japan on an exchange program where he attended Kansai Gadai University – an experience which broadened his skills and appreciation for international art as well as art on paper.

Bingham began an apprenticeship programme at the David Krut Print Workshop in 2006 and is now a practicing printmaker. One of his main areas of responsibility is editioning intaglio and relief prints and he has also been involved in numerous monotype projects. In addition to this, he teaches a three-week etching course at DKW for beginner and advanced printmaking students.

He has collaborated on projects with artists Bruce Backhouse, Diane Victor, Colbert Mashile, Paul Stopforth, Avhashoni Mainganye, Robert Whitehead, Andzrej Nowicki and many others.

Mlungisi Khongisa was born in the Eastern Cape and moved to Johannesburg in 1996 to complete his schooling. He began working at the David Krut Print Workshop in 2004 with the intention of broadening his skills in a number of areas.

He began an apprenticeship programme at DKW, working first as an assistant to Jillian Ross and Niall Bingham and managing the hanging of shows in the gallery. Khongisa is now printmaker on a number of projects and has begun to specialise in letterpress printing, working on a machine donated to DKW in 2007 by Rhona Gorvy.

Khongisa has worked on projects with Bruce Backhouse, Wilma Cruise, Johan Engels, Andzrej Nowicki and David Koloane, amongst others.

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