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.
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).
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.
I hope that you will be able to make time in your Busy Schedules to visit me on the occasion of this year’s San Francisco Open Studios at which, in addition to exhibiting with four other accomplished printmakers (see below), I will be premiering The Coming of the Cocklicranes or His Kingdom Restored, a limited edition artist book featuring four etchings by the same name (now taking pre-publication orders!). Of course, as you have come to know and expect, a vast sampling of those pieces of paper smashed into polished copper plates which have been defaced with scratches and rudimentary chemistry will also be on display. Refreshments will be served.
WHERE–Gruenwald Press, 1663 Mission Street, San Francisco (entrance on Plum Street), identified with a prominent festively colored yellow sign reading “Gruenwald Press”. See map link for the secret entrance on “Plum Street“. http://mapq.st/1LAdN7Q
WHEN–October 31 to November 1, 11 AM to 6 PM
Reception (party!) October 30, 5:30 to 8:30 PM
WHO--Kathy Aoki, David Avery, Jonathan Barcan, Susan Belau, John Gruenwald
Please Note: there is regrettably a flight of stairs which has to be negotiated in order to reach the studio, HOWEVER, if needed, the freight elevator is easily accessible and can be utilized by calling 415-734-0376 and waiting patiently…
The harbingers of Autumn include the publication of five new prints; a series of four etchings entitled The Coming of the Cocklicranes (view here), as well as the just recently completed Runner (Mom, Death and Devil), based on the (you guessed it) famous Durer engraving of a similar name. In addition, there is the upcoming publication of a new artist book based on the aforementioned series of four etchings, which is anticipated to be ready for my 2015 Open Studio exhibition. This year I will be showing at the John Gruenwald Studio the weekend of Oct. 31st, along with four other accomplished and varied printmakers. More information will be forthcoming as the date approaches.
This year has seen a solo exhibit at the New Grounds Gallery in New Mexico, a three person show at the Sandra Lee Gallery in San Francisco, as well as prints included in an exhibit at the Venice Biennale, the Child’s Gallery in Boston, and several competitions with six awards and honorable mentions.
Ex Libris—In Absentia, a hard ground etching on copper was created in response to a call to printmakers from around the world to engage with and explore the implications of the destruction of Bagdad’s intellectual and bookselling district on Al Mutanabbi Street by a car bomb in 2007. The Al Mutanabbi Street Project seeks to draw attention not only to the attack in Bagdad, but through the idea of “Al Mutanabbi Street starts here” to raise awareness of the connections between Bagdad and the threat to culture (artistic and literary thought and exchange of ideas) in the face of the potential for intolerance and violence on our own street.
Woland famously remarked in Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita” that “Manuscripts don’t burn”, meaning…what, exactly? Of course, they do burn, and so do people, as evidenced by this project, but perhaps it is the sense that ideas don’t burn that makes this such a powerful statement. In which case, where do they go, when so emphatically rejected by the arbitrary and malevolent forces of “the real world”? Is there some sort of continuum, a “space behind the curtain” so to speak that allows minds to connect and reconnect with the essence of burned manuscripts? These are some of the questions that came to mind in the process of exploration engendered by this project.
Too Close to the Sun, my most recent etching, is now available and has been selected from over 3000 prints to be shown along with work from 28 other artists at the IPCNY’s New Prints 2014/Winter exhibition from January 22nd to March 12th, 2014. It was also accepted into the 2014 Delta National Small Prints Exhibition from January 30th to February 28th, 2014.
Too Close to the Sun is based on the 16th century engraving of the fall of Icarus by Hendrick Goltzius from his series, The Four Disgracers that depicted the results of blind arrogance and ignorance in the face of the inexorable forces of the gods and nature. Safe, Clean, Cheap—Phaethon in the 21st Century, which can be seen on my website, was my previous attempt in this vein. I have adapted the work of Goltzius, which was created at the time to comment on the excesses of Phillip II in oppressing the Netherlands, to reflect on current curses of humanity that have been created for our own good by people who know what’s best.
A final note—due to the all-encompassing forces of supply and demand as exemplified by the Invisible Hand of the Marketplace, as of the end of January the price for the etching (not the book) Obeliscolychny will be $1000.00.