As we begin flinging our masks off, I wanted to
share with you an article written by Karin Breuer of the Fine Arts Museums of
San Francisco for their newsletter about the piece MENDACIA RIDICULA (the
Wheel of Ixion) which was acquired for their collection, and the series of
etchings from which it came. These pieces are based on the four engravings of
Hendrick Goltzius The Four Disgracers, and as she explains in her
thoughtful article, they use the 16th Century engravings to engage
with current issues of our day. You can read the article here: https://deyoung.famsf.org/de_Young_Open_David_Avery
I recently participated in a three person Zoom
presentation under the auspices of the Boston Printmakers at the Providence Art
Club in Rhode Island to talk about my work (actually, the Goltzius series).
Several people who viewed it have commented to me that they found some
edification in the description of how I make my work, and so I thought I would
also share the link with you. There is some time spent on housekeeping for the
meeting, so I start about 6 minutes or so after the beginning, and you can
watch me make all the standard flubs with Zoom before I get started. I hope you
will find it entertaining. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DTqkcMrAuIY
In other news, I have participated in 16 competitive
and invitational exhibits since the beginning of the year, won a purchase award
at the University of Texas at Tyler, and was selected from the Crocker Kingsley
exhibit at the Blue Line gallery in Roseville to show at the Crocker Art Museum
in Sacramento for the second time in a row.
Finally, the latest piece, A Kind of Flying—The Invisible Hand. Goya meets Adam Smith.
In the Year of the Covid, 2020, I am nevertheless very pleased that the de Young Museum of San Francisco will be purchasing my etching, MENDACIA RIDICULA (the Wheel of Ixion) for their collection, after having accepted my two entries for the de Young Open, an exhibition of Bay Area artists culled from over 11,000 entries. The Exhibition can be accessed online at https://deyoung.famsf.org/exhibitions/de-young-open and will be showing at the museum until the beginning of January. This etching has become very popular recently for some reason (!) and has been included in eight shows since the beginning of the year, as well as being included in the collection of Casa de las Americas in Cuba.
Concerning which, there are now only four complete
sets left of the New Four Disgracers, of which this etching is a part.
Likewise, there are only four impressions of Obeliscolychny still available.
Get them before the coup starts!
What, though the field be lost,
All is not lost; the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what else is not to be overcome?
That Glory never shall his wrath
Extort from me.
From Paradise Lost, Book I—Satan lying in a pool of burning sulfur after being cast out of heaven (losing, that is). It will be a rocky road…
Just in time for the holidays! My most recent
etching is hot off the press. It is my take on a trope exploited by artists
(think: Munch) since the middle ages: Death
and the Maiden. Printed in edition of 25 on my last remaining sheets of
Cream Zerkall Laid Cover, it can be yours for only $300. The oval plate size is
4” x 3 1/16”. Makes a great stocking stuffer.
I have recently had the honor of having one of my prints, MENDACIA RIDICULA (The Wheel of Ixion) selected from a body of work by the Boston Printmakers by Janette Brossard, president of the Association of Cuban Printmakers, to be exhibited at the Boston Printmakers/Cuban Exchange Exhibition this spring. The Exhibition, titled CONEXIONES/CONNECTIONS will be shown in Cuba at the Taller Experimental de Grafica de La Habana from April 15- May 15. Only 41 prints were selected, so I am very happy to have been included, especially that that particular etching was picked.
My work is also being featured in the online literary publication Verdad (click on the cover to access the magazine), and is accompanied by a very nice commentary by the art editor, Jack Miller. They have also created marginalia for each poem and story, made up of strips of some of the etchings. I like marginalia.
I would like to take this opportunity to announce
the completion of my most recent etching, The
Frailty of Realization, which was begun last December. The title of this
work is derived from the writings of Bruno Schulz, who wondered if the
substance of what we call reality could really be substantial enough to support
the immensity of ideas whose integrity demands the resistance to incarnation. I
began to think of this as a kind of summation of my work up until the present,
and you may find quotations here and there from earlier pieces, as well as
references to various outside influences and some goings on of late.
The stage is set with this excerpt, a prelude to The Age of Genius, from The Book by Bruno Schulz:
“…There are things that can never occur
with any precision. They are too big and too magnificent to be contained in
mere facts. They are merely trying to occur, they are checking whether the ground
of reality can carry them. And they quickly withdraw, fearing to lose their
integrity in the frailty of realization. And if they break into their capital,
lose a thing or two in these attempts at incarnation, then soon, jealously,
they retrieve their possessions, call them in, reintegrate: as a result, white
spots appear in our biography—scented stigmata, the faded silvery imprints of
the bare feet of angels, scattered footmarks on our nights and days—while the
fullness of life waxes, incessantly supplements itself, and towers over us in
wonder after wonder.
And yet, in a certain sense, the
fullness is contained wholly and integrally in each of its crippled and
fragmentary incarnations. This is the phenomenon of imagination and vicarious
being. An event may be small and insignificant in its origin, and yet, when
drawn close to one’s eye, it may open in its center an infinite and radiant
perspective because a higher order of being is trying to express itself in it
and irradiates it violently.”
The Frailty of Realization will be printed on two different papers in edition of 40. Numbers 1 to 20 will be printed on Zerkall Copperplate Cream, and numbers 21 to 40 will be printed on Zerkall Copperplate Warm White. The image size is 9” x 13”, with a curved top border, and the paper size is 14 ½” x 18”. The prepublication price will be $725.00 until October 24th, at which time the price will be $775.00.
When I created my etching based on Goltzius’ Phaethon in 2011, little did I realize that I would continue this theme over the years and appropriate, one by one, and for my own nefarious purposes, each of his four engravings from the series known as The Four Disgracers. In keeping with Goltzius, who used fallen figures from classical Greek myths to disparage the arrogance of Phillip II of Spain, who was trying to subjugate the Netherlands at the time, I have utilized his images (which were actually based on the original paintings of another artist, but certainly stand on their own merits) to reflect on some of our current curses of humanity.
So, the fourth work from Goltzius’ series representing the fall of Ixion has been completed. It is titled MENDACIA RIDICULA (the Wheel of Ixion), and is based on the most complex and detailed of his four engravings. The impetus for creating this final work really came from my discovery of the translation into English of the Latin text encircling the original image. Aside from tweaking the rather clumsy translation and adding one detail at the end, my text pretty much follows the original, word for word. Lamentably, the muse Clio has the unfortunate habit of repeating herself, but her ashcan is ready and waiting. And as regard to the demand for civility in public discourse by the current dominant political organization enabling insanity, I can only reply; “Mendacia Ridicula”.
As we all know, Ixion was redeemed and invited up to Olympus by Zeus after committing some rather unsavory crimes against his mortal brethren. In keeping with his character, once among the gods, he lusted after Zeus’s wife, Hera, and when Zeus realized this, he created a “dark (Stormy?) cloud” in the likeness of Hera, with whom Ixion proceeded to have intercourse. Needless to say, when he subsequently boasted about his supposed conquest, he was punished (tied to the spinning wheel of Ixion for eternity). However, the sexual encounter was unprotected, and depending on your preference of myth, the dark cloud (Nephele) either gave birth to the race of Centaurs, or to a deplorable individual who was responsible for fathering them. (I’ll leave it to your imagination as to how that was accomplished). In spite of Uncle Walt’s bucolic version, it’s doubtful that the ancient Greeks took this as a good thing.
MENDACIA RIDICULA (the Wheel of Ixion) is an etching, 6” x 6”, printed on Van Gelder Simili Japon paper in an edition of 30. In addition to offering it for purchase at the price of $400.00, I am making the set of four (The Four Destructors; The Four Deplorables?—we’ll see) available for $1425.00, which is a discount of 10 % from the full price of $1580.00.
This year I have received my second purchase award from the 31st McNeese Works on Paper Exhibition, the third Place Award from the Texas National 2018 Competition (1000 entries!), and my work “A Ticket to Ride…” was acquired by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. In August I will be showing work in “Stand Out Prints” at the Highpoint Center for Printmaking (900 entries!) and “Pressing Matters” at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. Stay tuned for info about Fall Open Studios and the Art for Aids Auction (Das Narrenschiff).
Thank you for your patience in following the 6 month progress of my ambitious (read: larger) recent endeavor, Das Narrenschiff. Several of you have expressed interest in seeing the work when it was completed, and I’m happy to report that the plate is finally finished. I would also like to offer the etching to those of you who are interested at a prepublication price of $675.00, plus framing if needed. This offer will extend through the end of this month (March), after which the regular retail gallery price of $750.00 will apply.
Das Narrenschiff was inspired (read: wholesale appropriation) by the renowned painting Ship of Fools by Hieronymus Bosch, who in turn was probably influenced by Sebastian Brandt’s 15th century litany of follies in verse (112 to be exact) titled Das Narrenschiff. The medieval Ship of Fools trope tapped into by Brandt probably originated in an excerpt from Book VI in Plato’s Republic. Needless to say, modern concerns combined with indiscriminate anachronism take precedence in my new work, and everyone should be beginning to wonder what that taste is when they bite into their next tuna sandwich.
Das Narrenschiff will be printed in an edition of 35 on Hahnemuhle Copperplate Warm White paper. The image is 14 ¼” x 7 ½”, and the paper size is 20” x 12 ½”. Viewing of the final impression can be arranged by contacting me at your convenience. Please take a gander at the attached image, and I hope you will be encouraged to see the actual print. Be the first one on your block (neighborhood, county, state, alternative reality) to acquire one!
Here is a copy of the Washington Post Article by Mark Jenkins containing a review of my solo exhibit at the Washington Printmakers Gallery this last July. Stay tuned for more information on this year’s Open studio.
Here’s a review by Mark Jenkins
in the July 21st Washington Post:
David Avery’s “Tempestuous Muse,” on view at Washington Printmakers Gallery. (David Avery/Washington Printmakers Gallery)
“As a maker of hand-etched prints, David Avery is something of an antiquarian. He also inserts text – sometimes in Latin – into his exquisitely detailed work. So, of course, the San Francisco artist centered his display at Washington Printmakers Gallery on a print titled “Obeliscolychny.” It’s a word he allows is “obscure and rarely used,” in an essay accompanying the show, “Pursuing Invisible Reflections.”
The term refers to a lighthouse, which in Avery’s depiction is a spindly stack of many kinds of buildings, including monument, windmill and tumbledown shack. Here as in the other prints, the look and some of the content is closer to Albrecht Durer than any contemporary artist.
Yet the classic imagery is wittily updated. Avery interjects Renaissance-style intimations of mortality and damnation into everyday scenes: A skeleton rides a stick horse whose head is a equine skull, or a woman jogs with a stroller and a dog, accompanied by Death (riding a bicycle) and a demon. Such mash-ups would be only mildly amusing if the artist didn’t so successfully emulate centuries-old motifs and methods. Indeed, Avery is so adept that viewers in bygone eras might have surmised that he’d sold his soul to the devil.
Recently I was interviewed by Cy Musiker for the KQED Arts section on their web page as part of his review of a show at the Juan Fuentes Gallery titled “Creation & Resistance: Printmaking in Dark Times”. The piece in question, “Year of the Rooster” was not reproduced in the article (!), so here it is. The Latin on the scroll reads: “The World Wishes to be Deceived” (Thank you, James Branch Cabell), which is really what the piece is about, more than just Trump per se. You can see the article here: https://ww2.kqed.org/arts/2017/03/21/political-prints-pull-no-punches-at-juan-r-fuentes-gallery/ .
You can also visit the exhibit at the gallery at Accion Latina at 2958 24th Street (between Harrison and Alabama), Tues through Sat, 11 AM to 5PM through April 7th.
As promised, a new etching based on the engraving Tantalus from the 16th century by Hendrick Goltzius has been completed this summer, and is titled Running on Empty. This is the third in a series of four, and who knows when the fourth will be done, as I adamantly refuse to entertain the possibility of ever doing another one of these again each time a new one is completed.
As you will remember (!), Tantalus, a mortal fathered by Zeus, had, among his other indiscretions towards the gods, decided to kill, dismember, and boil is son Pelops, and serve him at a banquet for the inhabitants of Mt. Olympus, to test whether they were actually omniscient. It was a mistake. They were.
His punishment was to be made to stand in a pool of water that receded every time he tried to satisfy his thirst, and to stand under a tree that pulled away its branches whenever he tried to pluck any fruit. (In ancient Greece, cannibalism and the killing of kin were considered to be among the worst atrocities one could commit). Of course, I have replaced the fruit tree with a gas pump nozzle (see lower right). Does the denial of science in the name of commerce render the balance of nature oblivious to the cannibalization of our children’s future?
See image and info on my website: http://www.davidavery.net/prints/empty.html
This spring I had a very successful exhibition at the Sarratt Gallery at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and will once again be participating in San Francisco Open Studios at John Gruenwald Press, which will take place on the second weekend, October 22nd and 23rd. Stay tuned for more information.