Intaglio prints often look reserved because the process of making them is precisely sequential, with acid baths, scratching into grounds, and paper placement. In books they are perfectly self-contained. Maybe that’s why there aren’t many Expressionistic prints—there isn’t much room for emotive gestures, and if they exist, they are diluted with translation and procedure. In Crown Point Press’ “Small Gems: A Winter Group Show,” Tom Marioni, Sol LeWitt, and Richard Tuttle’s works are about lolling around in Conceptualism and Minimalism’s infinite interpretations and metaphors; they are little pieces with delicate lines. It’s the kind of art you vibe to.
Aquatints by Chris Ofili and a woodcut by Eric Fischl make you want to take your clothes off and get in the pool. Ofili based his prints off of photographs of hikes he took to waterfalls in Trinidad viewed on a laptop, but in their color and vague imagery they feel like free-associations on being adventurous (Magical Secrets). Everything Fischl makes has a common and free sexuality like a John Updike novel. Both of their work is visceral to the degree that Marioni and LeWitt are intellectual. This is the perfect approach to a group show, which are often mistakenly held together with a shared tonality. Contrast is all people ever want from art, in dissonant concepts, and not-quite-perfect handskills. The print process isn’t inherently restrained, it’s just frequently employed by measured people. Sometimes the print is more free than a painting.
“Small Gems: A Winter Group Show” is on view at Crown Point Press’ gallery through March 9, 2013.
“Chris Ofili.” Magical Secrets: A Printmaking Community. Web 30 January 2013. http://www.magical-secrets.com/artists/ofili/video.