CNB Gallery Director Rebecca Lidert first experienced Cedar Lewisohn’s new woodblocks in a disused office block in East London.
‘It was almost as if the pieces had been made to fit the enormous space with paper squashed between ceiling and floor and woodblocks spread across the large expanse of panelled carpet. Heroes and villains with sharp teeth and bendy limbs stood larger than life in every colour, as if creatures from another world seeking a victim or warning off unwanted attention. Exiling these characters to CNB Gallery, to live underground in the basement of Mark Hix’s Tramshed was not only an exciting possibility but an opportunity not to be missed.’
‘I see the woodblocks as tools to make images from. But they are in a way images themselves. The woodblocks are a visual alphabet that is constantly expanding. Everything from Mesopotamian gods, Masonic symbols, scenes from places in London pertinent to me. The blocks are cut by hand with a router, and various woodcutting tools. I think I am a compulsive producer… I’m always drawing, writing, making things. The woodcuts and woodcut prints came out of a desire to slow the process down. I’m also attracted to the analogue nature of them. The very idea that they are not a digital, video, online, type of thing. I work with scale with the woodcuts and prints, because it’s unusual to see these types of objects so large.
Woodcuts are typically small things done with fine pieces of wood. I use sheets of ply. The scale gives them a sense of theatre, and the audience is on the stage.
The blocks themselves are stained with colour from previous use. It’s hard to place them, they look old, but also not from a specific moment, then also, it’s maybe this clash of various historic moments which make them contemporary.
“Primitive”,”primitivism” are contested words, from a contested art history. It’s another form or Orientalism in some senses. So the woodblocks play with that space. They are about techno, they are about the future but they tap into something ancient to communicate that. It takes time for the information to be transmitted. I think, or hope, they are pop for future generations.’