“What I like about etching is that it is a mental and physical construction involving both a direct and an indirect process. [...] Even haphazard incidental lines, random scratches, and the most delicate wavering marks remain with clarity.” John Zurier, 2018
BORCH Editions is excited to present the second collaboration with US artist John Zurier. To categorize his work as minimalist would be rather misleading as that term has always been loaded with historical and formal connotations and these ideologies and aesthetic narratives can only partly describe what he is interested in. The exhibition at our Berlin gallery comprises etchings—taking up on ideas from his last visit at our print studio—as well as monotypes that he sees as an opportunity to “move quickly and play with different ideas and motifs.” This juxtaposition represents two very different approaches of working with the printing plate, one being a rather time consuming process while the other is a more intuitive and immediate practice.
For an etching, traces are worked into the plate in a complex and convoluted process. Coming to the print studio, Zurier embraced the challenges and possibilities of working in a technique that is different from his usual painting practice. Etching, for him, ”is all about light, tone, and simplicity, it is an expression of immediacy fixed in place by the pressure of the press.” His fascination for the copper plate derives from it being a world in itself, the shiny, delicate surface that can register the slightest and most humble touch of the artist’s hand, marks, that are close to nothing carrying an “authority, presence, and weight of its own.”
The soft ground etchings from the October series (2017) have been influenced by the experimental print works of the Dutch artist Hercules Seghers (1589–1638), one of the most prolific print makers of his time, who printed different versions of the same plate. Zurier decided to have the four etching plates printed in a color and in a grey edition. In the four color etchings, he was looking for a “balance between color and atmosphere, surface modulation and naturalness.” When trying different colors, he discovered how much they affect the tone and the grain of each line. Significant for the grey works was how the grey “brought out nuances in each print that were too blunt when printed in a pure black.” The four black line etchingsOctober Notes complete the series: They carry the careless intimacy of small drawings in a sketchbook.
For the monotypes, Zurier worked with watercolor on either an old copper plate or a plastic board. The ones on copper turned out to have a greater transparency in the color while the traces on the old plates added to the experience of surprise and discovery which made it so important for Zurier to work in that medium. Working rather intuitively with the wet color on the blank surface of the plate, he focused on “creating a feeling of color emerging from light.”