Composition with Registration Marks and Other Marks is what it says and says what it is. For his fourth collaboration with Wingate Studio in spring 2017, Sebastian Black has chosen to create an etching relating to his Puppy Paintings. This body of work is characterized by figuration and composition that is loosely defined by the face of a puppy. Accompanying each work is a Puppy Tale, a writing activity that doubles as the title and description of the features. The artist likes to think of the Puppy Paintings and their Tales as co-generating meaning in one another, rather than imbuing a painting with predicated meaning or giving a painting a descriptive title.
While the artist is accustomed to working with the malleability of oil paints, he took on a challenge inherent to multiple plate etching–to work with transparency and color overlays. In the end, the artist and printers found they could generate the gamut of desired colors using five plates each etched with four values: yellow, red, paynes gray, violet, and white. The white plate achieves an opacity that, along with the registration marks, serves as an analogue for the ubiquitous screen as viewed in layout programs like InDesign. The intaglio process offers an additional utilitarian meaning to the registration marks, as their black color is achieved through the combination of all plates except white, thereby registering the colors. On some plates the artist chose to use spit bite and burnishing to achieve subtle textures in the otherwise flat fields of color.
At Wingate Studio we encourage artists to adapt our process to their mode of working. Ingeniously, Black has done this not by expanding outside the traditional technique of intaglio, but by utilizing the process as an extension of his approach to making. This has involved a playful observance and consideration of all components of the process, from the materiality, to the art historical placement of the medium, to the naming of the work, and beyond.
In the studio
Wingate Studio is pleased to announce a small etching entitled Period Piece Peepers by Sebastian Black. This works are part of a larger body of multi-media work entitled Period Pieces that utilizes commercial vinyl letter set sheets in Helvetica typeface as their common grammar. Black strips the letters from the sheets, leaving subtle white-on-white readymade compositions. By reconstructing these compositions in different formats, Black abstracts them from their intended meaning, calling into question their original signifcance as signs and signifiers. Period Piece Peepers, is a two plate aquatint etching printed on a single sheet. An off-white image of the letters AA CC BB is overlayed with two black asterix, offering a figurative element.
Each volume of Period Piece Simple Sequence is composed of two sculptural 10-panel leporellos, one printed in a cool white and one in a warm white. As the progression of periods continues on every other panel from 1-10 in the first volume and 11-20 in the second volume, the compositions becomes increasingly energized. An off-white image of the letter set readymades appears on each opposing panel, offering 10 different compositions. Letters and punctuation are grouped in combinations that are seemingly random but are based on a utilitarian use of space on the sheet. Each set of two leporellos is presented in a cloth-bound screen printed slipcase.
The artist captures the physicality of the material he references through his use of deep aquatint etchings, which leave a thick layer of ink on the paper when printed. The physical presence of the ink is balanced by the subtlety of the palate and the fine line quality of the symbols. Recreating Period Pieces through the complex and laborious intaglio process is a further separation of these images from their origin, emphasizing the recontextualization of these signs. The artist envisions continuing the volumes until the final page of periods is completely black.
Sebastian Black (b 1985 New York City) is based in New York City and has recently had solo and two-person exhibitions at C L E A R I N G (Brussels, Belgium), Croy Nielsen (Berlin, Germany), Balice Hertling (Paris, France), Metro Pictures East (New York, NY), And Now (Dallas, TX), and Cherry and Martin (Los Angeles, CA), and has recently been included in group exhibitions at The Armory Show (New York, NY), Galeria Marlborough (Madrid, Spain), Hauser & Wirth (New York, NY), White Flag (St. Louis, MO), and Rachel Uffner and JTT Galleries (New York, NY). He received his MFA from Columbia University in 2012, and is represented by CLEARING Gallery in New York and Brussels, Belgium. His work is in the collections of the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA) and Fondation Louis Vuitton (Paris, France).