Richard Tuttle is the acknowledged master of the almost-absent artwork. His deft, lightweight artifacts—paper, fabric, wire—are arranged with minimal interventions that somehow achieve a perfect balance between personal, autographic impulses and leaving-well-enough-alone.
Tuttle has been working with ULAE for over a decade, and collaborated with other printers before that. The ephemeral modesty of prints suit his sensibility, and while the implicit regimentation of the edition may seem inapt, the materials used are so specific in their immediate physicality that the idea of the stack in the drawer is the last thing on the viewer’s mind
When Pressure Exceeds Weight is a series of four small horizontal prints, three of them eloquent dry points on distinctly irregular handmade paper, each auditioning a specific choreography of line. In the fourth, the paper moves from substrate to structure as a scattering of 24 small squares are irregularly joined and marked with embossings and two diagonal strokes of color. The gaps between the parts are as assertive as the paper and ink. Spirit and Nature on the other hand, are substantive concatenations of handmade paper sheets joined in almost sculptural arrangements (the frame is part of the work). The traveling line, made by woodblock, is entirely different from the fey thread of drypoint. Tough and sinewy, it bleeds color on either side of a central ridge, like an inflamed scratch on human skin. Instead of woundedness, however, it conveys a sense of jolly adventurousness: the kind of scratch acquired climbing a tree for a spectacular view.
As with all Tuttle’s work, these prints defy verbal analysis. Their forms aren’t referential and the application of theory to Tuttle’s oeuvre has always felt forced and unhelpful. Defying our ASCII cosmology, these are those rare things: objects to be understood through experience.