The Alchemy web site on Levity.com
Heretical DiagramsA suite of 20 prints by Ian Howard
Alchemia [screenprint] - Uccello [screenprint with bronzing, monoprint and collaged lithograph] - Lux [screenprint with varnish]
In the suite of prints entitled Heretical Diagrams, Ian Howard explores the theme of ideas in opposition: orthodoxy and heresy, magic and reason, order and disorder. The 'opposition' is found in both the imagery and the form of the prints. On the one hand the compositions are frontal, symmetrical, diagrammatic and describe clear unequivocal designs which reflect the structure of the altar-piece, the icon and the banner. On the other hand these simple designs often act as 'containers' for a complexity of small scale imagery, at times existing within other more tangible containers: glass domes, alchemical vessels, receptacles and recessed areas. These recall not only the shrine, the reliquary, the instruments of experimentation, but also house other self-contained worlds which are in opposition to the larger image.
Fisica [screenprint with lithograph] - Bruno II [etching with lithograph] - Ritratto [etching with lithograph and rubber stamps]
The imagery contains a set of metaphysical symbols and references to the Hermetic, particularly to the work of Giordano Bruno, but also to Fludd and Dee. There are also a number of archetypal symbols: the cross, the chalice and the urn, as well as various quotations from early Renaissance and 20th century art. Exact knowledge of these appropriations is not essential for the viewer as they are intended to form a patina of signs and symbols, some recognised, some half recognised, others not. This layering of meaning is mirrored by the physical layering of the printed separations, the final image revealing traces of those below.
The Heretical Diagrams series is published by Peacock Printmakers, Aberdeen in association with Fast West, London, with support from Duncan of Jordanstone School of Fine Art Research, and the Scottish Arts Council. There are 20 prints in the series, each 107cm x 76cm, in an edition of 10. The series uses the full variety of print media frequently mixed on the same sheet. The images are often sampled from other works, by the artist and by others, to be re-stated through the production process.
The series has been exhibited in the USA and the UK and is available, framed and crated, for exhibition on certain dates in 1998/99. For details contact Peacock Printmakers, 21 Castle Street, Aberdeen AB1 1AT Tel. 01224 639539
There is an accompanying publication of 80 pages and 20 colour plates with essays by Alan Woods, which places the print series in the context of the artist's other work; Jane Lee, whose comprehensive text unravels the iconography and charts the sources of the imagery in the wider history of ideas; and Arthur Watson, who describes the technical aspects of the work. This is available from Ian Howard or Peacock Printmakers, at £8 inc. p&p
Ian Howard is Professor of Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, University of Dundee and is a painter and printmaker. He exhibits internationally and his work is represented in numerous public and private collections world-wide. E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org