Portrait 2

I do like this woodcut print which is hanging on the wall at Krys’s house- the artist name is Hasemann, and my research suggests this is Arminius Hasemann (1888- 1979) who was a printer and illustrator. I couldn’t find a copy of this one online, but he illustrated an edition of Don Quixote, and I wonder if this print is from there. I love the style of this, and the character it manages to convey: I could make several comparisons with the self-portrait I tried to do, all of them to the great detriment of mine.

The use of contrast is striking and unexpected- the focus is on the single open eye and the bright white shirt (which is strangely appearing orange in this photo), and the composition of the whole is a pleasing balance of geometric shapes. The image has both character and drama- the woman is giving him a wary look, as if distrustful: he has a shifty look because of the one open eye, which is looking sideways out of the picture (the other eye is presumably closed due to the smoke coming up from the stub of a cigarette in his mouth, which also has the effect of twisting his lip). He is an insalubrious looking character, and the bright white shirt perhaps belies a corrupt nature.

The carving looks rough and gestural, as it comprises mainly straight lines. These are fine lines, and are used to define geometric shapes. Sometimes the lines follow the contours of the face, sometimes not: the cheeks of both characters have been cut in straight lines as if they are flat shapes, and this tension between flatness and three-dimensionality creates interest. The hat only just stands out against the dark, scratched background, like the jacket, both emerge from the darkness in a quite sinister way. The shirt highlights, cut with a broad blade, create a real shock.

This was one of the images that came up on Google search, and I would suspect comes from Hasemann’s series of prints on a circus theme. It is a rich, in fact busy, composition, and shows a wide variety of marks: thin lines evident also in the portrait above; straight lines made by different widths of blades, marks made by rocking the blade, crosshatching used for pattern, strong contrasts of solid black and white, tension between flatness and three-dimensionality. It’s busy, as I said. I prefer the more concentrated portrait, but as a sampler of wood/ lino cutting marks, it’s excellent.

(Addendum: Information provided by Krys:

I think the 3 wood cuts on my wall incl the Matador portrait are from the cycle “Himmel und Hölle auf der Landstrasse: mit 41 Holzschnitten des Verfassers” (Heaven and Hell on the Country Road, with 41 wood cuts of Hasemann)

>> if you search for the book title and hasemann google pics shows you the matador from Page 117 books.google.com link. The wood cuts are published in 1915, but they had been done before the 1st World War, 1912 -14 on his travels through Europe, where he apparently travelled with 2 violinists and he himself played the lute in order to get enough money to live.

http://books.google.com.hk/books/about/Himmel_und_H%C3%B6lle_auf_der_Landstrasse.html?id=kQstAAAAYAAJ&redir_esc=y

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arminius_Hasemann is the German wiki link – there is not much info on him there either)

I decided to go back to my self-portrait and try another using more of an atmospheric style. I also wanted to have a white “shock”, so chose to make the hair (which I have, shockingly to some, bleached white..) and the chest stand out. For the face, I worked within geometric shape, also varying between following contours and making flat areas. I used a thin blade and a nail to get the rough scratched effects. The large white areas were cut using a broad curved blade. The result is more interesting than my previous one, which I think was just too much about giving information. But it’s not got a strong character,  and isn’t in the act of doing anything, so lacks drama. I’m probably not the best person to make a caricature of myself! Although it does look evil. Nuff said.

The shock of white hair is a bit reminiscent of Andy Warhol, so I’m tempted to print this in multiple colours.

Et voila.

It’s printed on sheets of papier de soie- which does translate as tissue paper, but is really different to the tissue paper I have in Hong Kong. This is very delicate, and simply can’t be used for Chine colle following the procedure I used before. It disintegrates on contact with anything water-like, therefore glue. These were printed first then placed onto the backing paper, hence all the wrinkles. As I have observed, this paper stretches. Anyway I like the wrinkles, and I think this will look interesting behind glass.

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