Justin Quinn, Fallen Chapter 71 or 4836 Times E (2012)
- Direct gravure with stenciled relief roll on handmade paper, 15 x 11 inches (bleed). Edition of 20. Printed and published by Manneken Press, Bloomington, IL. Available from Manneken Press. $700.
I am delighted to be the first juror for the newly initiated Art in Print Prix de Print. I have been looking at prints for many years as an artist, a juror, a printer and an instructor. Above all, though, I look at prints for the sheer visceral excitement. I love prints that have their own kind of clarity and appear coherent and beautifully made. I like prints that hold my attention. I am happy to see this wherever it occurs—in a new work or an old one, in an inky field or a confidently rendered figure.
Justin Quinn’s Fallen Chapter 71 or 4836 times E (2012) exhibits precisely this visceral quality. The submitted prints for this issue’s Prix de Print were made using a wide range of print methods, styles and points of view and demonstrate the vitality and breadth of printmaking now.
When I received the digital file of submissions, I looked at all the images carefully. I then looked at them all again while reading the accompanying texts and artists’ statements. I went back to consider the work many times over a period of several days, slowly winnowing the number down.
I was looking for something like the experience I had recently when, preparing for a new project, I decided to make a study of Patrick Caulfield’s screenprints. I gathered books from the library at the University of Vermont where I teach and the Mid-Manhattan Library where I live. Even in reproduction, each print yielded useful and intriguing observations. I asked myself what it was about each image that kept me interested and allowed me to return to images I thought I knew, finding something new to enjoy, time and again, within work so apparently straightforward.
Looking through the Prix de Print submissions, I found myself returning to Quinn’s work again and again, becoming attuned to its subtlety. I felt surprise. Its simple organization belied its complexity. I particularly liked the shape of the plate and recognized that its scalloped form was derived from the letter E repeated over and over in a chain of drawn E’s. The interior field of the image is a mass of repeating E’s—smaller, darker, bigger, lighter, singular and grouped within the shape of the plate. I considered sound and speech—loud, louder, loudest, soft, softer, softest—as applied to mark making in etching.
I appreciated the particular way that Quinn constructed this work. I thought of concrete poetry and the tensions created when “reading” a work of art that is visual. Quinn’s print refers to language, but is not written or spoken language; it locates the viewer/reader within a territory that suggests rather than declares. As viewers, we can see those suggestions and fully experience the specific location (the printed space).
Looking—and seeing—Fallen Chapter 71 or 4836 times E offered this viewer a vital and regenerative experience.