ONE-OFF: An Exhibition of Unique Prints

Posted by on Mar 20, 2017 in Exhibitions | No Comments
Kate Arthur, Body in Blue II; 2017, Monotype on Zerkall Intaglio 250gsm, Unique Print

IMAGE: Kate Arthur, Body in Blue II; 2017, Monotype on Zerkall Intaglio 250gsm, Unique Print


At Warren Editions a lot of energy goes into making monotypes and teaching about the properties of monotype. Therefore, it seems fitting to showcase a selection of monotypes made through the years by various artists, who have all interpreted and used the monotype technique in ways that suit their individual working sensibility.


An original fine art print is neither a reproduction, nor a copy. Rather, it is the outcome of an art-making process, whereby an image is created on a surface, which is not that image’s final destination, as it is then transferred to another surface by means of pressure. In the case of printmaking, the ‘final home’ for the image is generally a piece of paper. In the creation of a monotype, the surface onto which an artist paints holds no fixed information that can be printed more than once. Unlike the printing surface of an etching, which has been permanently etched and thus can be printed in an edition, the monotype exists as a one-off – a unique print. The artist’s spontaneity and impulsive gesture find their way to the plate/printing surface, which in the case of monotypes is a sheet of PVC; the revelatory and reversed manifestation comes to be when the paper is lifted from the printing surface to reveal the unique print.


A further distinction is that between the monoprint and monotype. A monoprint is one of a series; a part of an image is in constant existence on the plate and repeated in each print – a fixed element, as such. The monotype, on the other hand, is a one-of-a-kind pulled impression created by means of the artist working on a clean, un-etched flat surface. Integral to the monotype process is the final decision to print. When this intuitive leap is made and the artist is ready to stop their mark-making, the printing surface is laid on the press bed, the paper is placed over it and through the press it goes. Any remaining residue on the printing surface, known as the ghost, leaves a diminished trace of the subtle brush strokes, daubs and/or flat colour planes that are now the history to a newly printed image. A monotype has come to be!


ONE-OFF includes work by Georgina Gratrix, Max Wolpe, Sanell Aggenbach, and Wilhelm Saayman; and new work by Michael Taylor, Mia Chaplin and Kate Arthur.

Mia Chaplin – In her painting practice, Chaplin uses impasto as a way to be simultaneously loose and descriptive.. In the monotype medium, the impasto technique is impossible because of the flattening action of the press, and so Chaplin needed to find other ways ‘to use [her] heart and not [her] brain to describe a subject’ (from aninterview with Between 10&5).

Michael Taylor – The particular palette of the watercolour monotypes made by Michael Taylor in 2016 is a result of his experience of the physical properties of the handmade watercolour put before him. In order to make this watercolour from scratch, the studio looked at the recipes and methods of watercolourists as far back as the 16th and 17th centuries. The aims were to have a watercolour that meets the demands of the watercolour monotype technique and which satisfies the artist’s need to paint with large brushes while also covering an entire surface without forfeiting colour intensity. Making watercolour in the studio opened up the possibility to tailor-make particular colours in line with the artist’s palette.

Kate Arthur – Drawing on the studio’s experience with handmade watercolour, Arthur has developed her own blue for use in her multi-layered water-based monotypes, which are an extension of an ongoing series of “body portraits”, which look at the body as a site of identity. Arthur’s focus is the bodies of people who identify as queer – an identity which encompasses not only aspects of gender, sex and sexual orientation but also, and more importantly, a politics which resists or challenges normative narratives around gender and sexuality.