exhibitions & events 2015
Ken Currie - New Etchings & Monotypes
Glasgow Print Studio First Floor Gallery
Exhibition Runs: 5th September – 18th October
Preview: Friday 4th September, 6–8pm
Glasgow Print Studio is pleased to present New Etchings & Monotypes, an exhibition of new prints by Ken Currie, on public view for the very first time.
Currie’s association with GPS goes back a long time, to the early 80s. However it was only in 1992 that he undertook any serious printmaking work at the print studio, when he produced a series of 27 etchings called The Age of Uncertainty. This was exhibited at GPS that same year.
The current exhibition of new etchings and monotypes will be Currie’s first at GPS since that time (a period of 23 years). It will also be the first time that he has shown any new work in Glasgow (Currie’s hometown) for over 13 years.
This new body of work has been produced over the last 8 months, with the etchings and some of the monotypes being produced at GPS over the last 5 months.
An online catalogue of the new works is available here
“It is always a great privilege to be asked to make prints at GPS for publication. You are given free reign to do whatever you want with the unstinting assistance of master etchers and the support of GPS staff. As well as that there are the interactions with GPS members who use the workshop daily and their comments, suggestions and advice as the work progresses are often immensely useful and insightful. In both the staff and members I saw the daily application of great technical skill and depth of knowledge in the medium of printmaking.”
For Currie, making prints, is always a learning process, an exploration of possibilities in the medium, and “it is to the credit of the GPS technicians that this was facilitated with maximum diligence. The final prints are entirely the result of collaborative practice.”
Etching as a medium has always suited Currie’s aesthetic concerns and themes which could broadly be described as both tenebrist  and chthonic - working with strong contrasts between light and dark both technically and, philosophically.
“I am attracted to the possibilities, in both etching and monotype, of contrasting luminous whites with deep velvety blacks to create strong images." Etching is very much about technique and process and has many similarities with painting. However, getting an etching plate to deliver the image you want can be hugely challenging. The artist often has no idea how the plate will turn out. As a medium it is entirely contingent and control of the final image can only come with vast experience. So, if these new etchings are about anything they are about the struggle simply to take a visual idea and make it work as a print.
In addition, Currie produced a body of monotypes in his own studio, “this was another learning experience and it took a long time to find a technique and process that would work. Chance plays a huge role in the making of monotypes, as it does with etching. There is something very direct, almost primitive, about the monotype process yet its apparent simplicity belies its potential for great sensuality and subtlety as a medium. In the monotypes, the idea of pulling images out of the inky blackness is always compelling as it is so redolent with possibility. When a print is taken from the plate it is always, without fail, a small moment of drama and often disappointment.”
The ideas in this exhibition are disparate and entirely random. There is no over-arching theme. Many of the images relate to paintings Currie has been working on or had been thinking about working on. Some are based on direct observation of things he has encountered or experienced, some come out of his interest in literature, cinema, history and politics and some from the work of other artists from the past. Others are simply visual ideas that interested the artist, and that he thought might work as prints. “I’ll leave it to the viewer to make up their own mind whether they work or not.”
 tenebrism - “a style of painting…characterised by predominantly dark tones and shadows with dramatically contrasting effects of light”.
 chthonic - “relating to or inhabiting the underworld”.
Image: Top: Ken Currie, 'Transformer', image size 30 x 42 cm, paper size 53 x 44 cm, etching in an edition of 40. Below: Ken Currie, 'Thomas Muir at Chantily', Image size 21.5 x 16.5 cm, paper size 42 x 34.5 cm, etching in an edition of 40.