Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Journey - Marie-Therese Wisniowski
Fine-Art Prints on Paper Exhibition

Opening Address – Dr Ellak I. von Nagy-Felsobuki
(Guest Editor)

My artwork has appeared in a number of exhibitions which have been featured on this blog spot. For your convenience I have listed these posts below.

ArtCloth: Engaging New Visions (Marie-Therese Wisniowski - Curator's Talk)
Sequestration of CO2 (Engaging New Visions) M-T. Wisniowski
Codes – Lost Voices (ArtCloth Installation) M-T. Wisniowski
Unleashed: The Rise of Australian Street Art (Art Exhibition) Various Artists
Merge and Flow (SDA Members Exhibition) M-T. Wisniowski
Another Brick (Post Graffiti ArtCloth Installation) M-T. Wisniowski
ArtCloth Swap & Exhibition
When Rainforests Ruled (Purple Noon Art & Sculpture Gallery) M-T. Wisniowski
When Rainforests Glowed (Eden Gardens Gallery) M-T. Wisniowski
My Southern Land (Galerie 't Haentje te Paart, Netherlands) M-T. Wisniowski
The Last Exhibition @ Galerie ’t Haentje the Paart
Mark Making on Urban Walls @ Palm House (Post Graffiti Art Work)
Fleeting - My ArtCloth Work Exhibited @ Art Systems Wickham Art Gallery
My Thirteen Year Contribution to the '9 x 5' Exhibition at the Walker Street Gallery & Arts Centre
Timelines: An Environmental Journey
Man-Made Fish Kills

The Journey
My name is Ellak von Nagy-Felsobuki and I am an Emeritus Professor at the University of Newcastle (Australia). I am opening Marie-Therese’s exhibition today at Megalo Print Studio & Gallery in Canberra (Australia) as Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Art Quill & Co Pty Ltd. Its education division is Art Quill Studio, where Marie-Therese is its Director and the principal resident artist. The other Directors have charged me to speak today.

Peter Zanetti (Director, Megalo Print Studio & Gallery) and Ellak I. von Nagy-Felsobuki at the opening.

Over the years I have got to know Marie-Therese’s prints on paper and cloth. Today’s exhibition - “The Journey” - features a retrospective of her prints as well as current prints on paper that is illustrative of Marie-Therese Wisniowski’s socio-political footprint. I will highlight only some of the techniques and talk about some of the selected prints on paper that are exhibited here today.

Tam Calderwood, Marie-Therese Wisniowski and Gerlinde Calderwood at the opening.

Fellow printmaker - Rachel Burgess - has written in her article for “Imprint” magazine that Marie-Therese’s prints in terms of their socio-political content are reminiscent of works produced by the print collectives in the 1970s - such as Earthworks Poster Company and Redback Graphix. However, unlike prints produced by these latter companies, Marie-Therese has brought these subjects back into the fold of limited edition artworks.

Cry For the Wilderness and Made To Order Fine-Art Print series at the exhibition.

Marie-Therese wants to develop a dialogue with you - the viewer - and to do so she employs an iconic language, not unlike the Chinese pictograms and Egyptian hieroglyphs (see some of the artistic marks in the backgrounds of most of her prints). That is, she presents you with iconic crosswords, clues, hints - and your job is to do the unraveling. The unraveling brings forth a socio-political stance – maybe not your stance. However, in doing so she has sharpened your understanding of your own set of beliefs. Marie-Therese has therefore engaged you in a democratic process – an argument for some or re-affirmation for others.

Veiled Curtains, Cultural Graffiti V, and The Decades Fine-Art Print series at the exhibition.

She is not only an ArtCloth artist, but also a master printmaker. Take a look at the borders of the Federation On Hold - series in which she has developed a silkscreen technique she coined “multiplexing”. Successive overlays of different transparent inks and resists create a painterly quality. She has employed the same technique in Veiled Curtains and in Whose Church?”

Whose Church?

In “Cultural Graffiti V” she has developed another silkscreen technique called “matrix formatting”. Here a number of images have been spliced together to form a matrix. The base unit is overlaid by the components of the matrix. This gives the print an underlining symmetry, which projects a real sense of vibrancy.

Cultural Graffiti V (Fine-Art print on paper version).
See - Cultural Graffiti Series - for both ArtCloth and Prints On Paper Versions.

Marie-Therese often utilizes digital images of her ArtCloths in her fine-art prints on paper artworks. For example, she uses a deconstructed screen technique on cloth developed by Kerr Grabowski – called “deconstructed screenprinting” – in which thickened dyes are applied to the silkscreen, dried, and printed off with print paste creating disintegrating organic effects as the dye is being dissolved. The images are printed on the cloth, then digitally photographed and so form part of a background in her paper print artworks. This merging of cloth techniques on her paper prints can be seen in the “Wish You Were Where?” series and in many of the background images in the artist printmaker’s book – Not In My Name

Wish You Were Where? Environmental Refugees I.

Now what about the content of her work? In the collagraph prints - Cry for the Wilderness - she investigates the disconnection of wilderness areas and portrays them as isolated pockets managed poorly by humanity. Her concern for the environment is played again and again in such series as - “Wish You Were Where?” - which is a deconstructed work, where she explores the ramifications in human costs of global warming.

Cry for the Wilderness.

As a scientist I am very comfortable with genetically modified food, but it is clear that Marie-Therese is not. She engages you in a dialogue in which you must sharpen your argument if you are to be believed. For example, in “Made to Order III” she puzzles about the insertion of a gene in the tomato DNA that will sweeten the tomato (without any need for labeling) due to our pre-disposition for sweeter food. Is one component in the rise in Stage II diabetes, she poses, due to the increased consumption of sugar from a variety of sources including from un-natural sweetened tomatoes? She raises the argument by claiming that not all consequences or outcomes of genetically modified foods may be knowable (editor: re analog version - the introduction of the cane toad in Australia to handle one pest just created another - the cane toad - that adapted unpredictably too well on the Australian continent and so cause mass destruction of many native species. A scientific case of "Oops - we got it wrong!")

Made To Order III.

In Federation on Hold Marie-Therese has mapped the four main issues of 2001 (celebrating 100 years of the Australian Federation) back to Australian Prime Ministers of the past and present and these were: Reconciliation (Barton), Poverty (Scullin), The Republic (Menzies) and Refugees (Howard). She questions whether in the first 100 years of the Australian Federation anything of significance has really been accomplished in these four critical socio-political areas.

Federation On Hold - Call Waiting: Press 3 - The Republic (Prime Minister Menzies).

In Veiled Curtains she employs a clever omission. Every orchestra conductor will tell you that the great composers know all about musical notes, but they also know where to place silences. Here Marie-Therese has confronted us with three notes and one silence. The three notes are of course women leaders: (i) in a Muslim society (Bhuto); (ii) in a Hindu society (Ghandi); (iii) in a Buddhist society (Aung San Suu Kyi). The silence is the lack of a Christian woman leader. When she created these prints Maggie Thatcher was well known to her. The lack of a woman leader from a Christian society informs us by its omission that the West does not have a mortgage in propelling women into the leadership group of their society.

Veiled Curtains: Aung San Suu Kyi.

Her unframed prints – “The Decades” - shows how she feels political events have unfolded over the past fifty or so years. It is clear that they were dominated by the baby boomers. It was the baby boomers that in the 1960s used their music to express and then foster their political and individual dissent upon governments. It was the baby boomers in the 1970s that developed a social consciousness and wanted wealth to be more evenly spread (John Travolta played a poor kid making good in ‘Grease’ and ‘Saturday Night Fever’). By the 1980s and 1990s, it was the baby boomers that introduced democracies to closed societies in order to open them up. For example, dictatorships in Argentina, Chile, Brazil and El Salvador all but vanished. There was 50 or so years of accepted defiance. And then there was 9/11, after which defiance became too deadly an affair for baby boomers to accept. It is the baby boomers that are now demanding compliance.

The Decades: The 90s - Defiance.

I have not the time to reach out and talk about all of her prints exhibited here - no one should stand for too long between you and your wine! Nevertheless, I want to refer now to her artist printmaker’s book entitled “Not in My Name”. This project shows Marie-Therese’s compassion as a human being. It is a book about her opposition to the war in Iraq, but that would just be a superficial take on it. It is a book against all wars and so it focuses on the victims of war. She wrote her opposition in verse and did her prints in a digital format (relying on her digitized ArtCloth prints to fill the background of some of those images). You might not agree with her stance, but that's okay, for we do live in a democracy.

There is one poem and print called “Her Death”, which is exhibited here today.  It could have been a Jewish woman and her child, a Hindu woman and her child, a Buddhist woman and her child, a Christian woman and her child, but it happens to be a converted Muslim woman and her child. Each time this book has been exhibited, this one print has been defaced. I guess the ending of the poem and the angelic face of the unknown victim was too much for some to bear. The last line of the poem - Her Death - reads:

“Bodies hurled, her senses furled, within one scream was her death”.

Let us hope that this print will not be defaced in Canberra (Australia).

Her Death. Not In My Name

Marie-Therese is more than happy to talk to anyone here about her techniques and her work. Please make good on her offer.

Finally, let me thank on behalf of Art Quill Studio and its parent company Art Quill & Co Pty Ltd, Megalo Print Studio & Gallery and in particular, Peter Zanetti, Anita Reynolds, Emma Rees and Cecile Galiazzo for helping Marie-Therese in supporting her studio work at Megalo and in assisting her to present this exhibition here in Canberra (Australia).

Dr. Ellak I. von Nagy-Felsobuki

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