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Zoran Dimovski


What is the position of printmaking in 2020?

All forms of printmaking are expanding. Primarily due to the position it has occupied in the new technological electronic media. The visually and text- orientated media of mass communication has perceived printmaking as something not only necessary but also essential. Simultaneously, the connection with photography as an independent medium was even more strengthened.

When fine-art photography began developing as a medium, it was thought that photography had to imitate art, to copy not only the visual characteristics and formal values of prints but also the stylistic and conceptual ones. This dogmatic moment in the initial stage of the formation of photography as a medium was changed very quickly, primarily under the influence of documentary photography, vernacular photography and other photographic forms. When modern electronic media was comprehensively defined, an inverse complimentary process took place, as well as certain feed-back connections. Contemporary prints draws energy from photography. These mutual influences created a specific kind of artistic and media symbiosis.

Traditional printmaking technologies have been continually present. Traditional printmaking disciplines are the ones that give the necessary exclusivity to modern printmaking. They complement newer printmaking disciplines very well. A good example was the exhibition by the Chapman Brothers in the Cvijeta Zuzorić Gallery. They used the traditional printmaking method of etching to present contemporary contents, themes and recent context. This kind of balance is almost regularly showcased at specialized international high-profile printmaking exhibitions.

If we discus the status of printmaking as an art discipline today, in relation to other modules of visual arts in terms of presence, visibility, valorization, we can say that it is less represented.


       

Z. Dimovski, No Title, 1994, lithography, 85×65 cm
Z. Dimovski, No Title, 1993, lithography, 60x80 cm


Has printmaking gone “over” the media edge or has it expanded/developed a new field of activity?

I think the printmaking has crossed traditional boundaries. This process began long before the time of modern art. Traditional prints from the East and calligraphy played a significant role in paving the way for the emergence of modern art. Generally, they were constantly present in modernism, especially in abstract art.

In fact, each new form of publishing activity and mass media of communication brought major transformations in the domain of printmaking. However, it had a decisive and huge impact on the formation of new publishing media. We only need to remember the lavish advertisements from the beginning and the middle of the twentieth century. Huge amounts of graphic visual content were printed and published. All of this was conceived and executed by artists from the domain of printmaking, graphic design and visual arts in general. Today, printmaking has migrated to the electronic publishing media.

Printmaking has always very quickly crossed the borders of its own medium and formed its own new frameworks. It started before the beginnings of printing, via the printing of the first book, and is still going on. It will continue to do so in the future as well. Printmaking has always been the art discipline that was the first to embrace technological revolutions.


The ethical, aesthetic and communicative role of printmaking and visual arts in an age of global change and crisis?

One of the basic tasks of the printmaking approach is the communicative one – the transfer and emission of information. In fact, I think that feature of extreme communicativeness emerged from the concept of multiple prints and multi-originals. Quite simply, a large number of people share the same information at once.

Printmaking also has the feature of enhanced communicability. This feature is a result of prints being multi-originals. (If communicativeness were to be labeled as software, then communicability could be the hardware.) In most cases, there are multiple prints. These days, transport is not too complicated or expensive. It is easier for an individual to send a print in a tube than, than say, a sculpture. (The van Eyck brothers applied this feature of communicability in painting. They developed a completely new painting technology that enabled the transition of painting from a wooden surface to a canvas.) Today, prints can easily be downloaded from the server and the organizer of the exhibition will print them according to the artist's specifications. It is completely legitimate - with the artist’s electronic signature and other necessary information, and the print transposed in such a way is completely authentic like any other print from the same electronic matrix printed on the same printer and on the same paper… Such an extreme communicability feature, in addition to the feature of multi-originals, is only possible in digital photography and video works that do not have an additional module of ambient installation, where the video work is only being screened or broadcast. In this sense, these three art media: digital prints, video and digital photography, best illustrate the cynical phrase - the free flow of people, ideas and goods… Other media find it much harder to cross borders. It is harder and more complicated to get the necessary documents and transport is incomparably more expensive. For younger artists without support, who naturally want to participate in international exhibitions, this is almost impossible, regardless of where in the world they work and create. Thus, most younger artists chose to work in the media that have enhanced communicability and also incorporate the spirit of printmaking and multi-originals.


       

Z. Dimovski, No Title #20, 1998/99, mixed media, 70x100 cm
Z. Dimovski, No Title #110, 2001, mixed media, 70x100 cm


A special place in the history of civilization is occupied by an extremely important manifestation of printmaking : printed money, printed securities. These are machine-printed graphic sheets in large numbers. They signified and were the equivalents of material value. They manifested power in its final form. They were a materialized, ergonomic replacement for a certain value. The authenticity of these papers was crucial. Almost every inhabitant of the planet knew that money in the form of banknotes existed, and most people have them. The propaganda effect of these printed materials is immeasurable and more massive than the artistic prints. Motifs and visual contents are almost uniform on most banknotes and that content has a propaganda task. Money represented truth through the reduction of power to multiplied sophisticated paper.

In that sense, today, the situation has changed. The value of money is now recorded on some information carrier. Paper printed money may not be used in the near future. However, a printed banknote will always remain the symbol for money. In the same way as the symbol for treasure will always be gold or a gold coin, which is also a kind of relief three-dimensional print cast from a mold ...

Prints played a decisive communicative role in all significant events in societies during the course of civilization. Especially in the periods of great wars and social revolutions. We all know about the “I Want You” poster in different forms.

In terms of addressing public opinion and in the context of communication tools, it can be said that the First World War was a war of posters, the Second World War - a war of radio broadcasts, the Korean, Vietnamese and wars in the Middle East were television wars. And the wars fought after them are wars fought on the Internet. Thus, the events that shaped the world are connected to the medium of printmaking, and the information transmitted by the medium is multi-original ...

In such a context and ambience of meaning, printmaking does not only have attributes of the artistic, but also the primary communicative task of propaganda and indoctrination.

This is a basic ethical issue that is raised in reference to printmaking. It is a more intense one for printmaking than for other forms of visual arts. However, this contextual fact is generally not sufficiently visualized and conceptualized in the medium of printmaking. As if formal values are more important than the language (discourse) that defines real meaning.


       

       

Z. Dimovski, Siesta, 1999, Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade
Z. Dimovski, Body, 2002.


The role, scope and positions of printmaking in the context of individual artistic poetics, curatorial practices and institutional programs in your professional environment?

I have been following events on the local and regional art scene for more than thirty years. I used to be more active on the domestic printmaking scene. Today, I do not have such a broad insight into different artistic practices as, say, I had in the 1990s or the first decade of this century. However, I see that we have excellent artists of the younger generation who are interested in printmaking. I also noticed the high level of the culture of printing in all forms of printmaking. Younger artists make very good use of digital media in contemporary printmaking. But what is perhaps more important is that artists who use the medium of printmaking, regardless of the printing technique, communicate in the language of contemporary global art. Personally, I fail to see the importance of only formal visual values and specific values of technique and media in these prints while there is an absence of any discourse.

Curatorial activities in the documentary and historical domain are very good. This is evident by numerous large exhibitions of prints organized in our country. There is a huge amount of work behind the scenes of these events and a lot of published professional literature and photographs. These books are also excellent educational material. As for curatorial orientations explicitly in the field of contemporary printmaking, I think that curators and art historians of the younger generation do not pay enough attention to the recent production of younger artists. However, I may be wrong and I do not have enough information.


               

Z. Dimovski, Siesta, 2002, Zepter Gallery


The importance of international biennials / triennials dedicated to art of printmaking?

The significance of the international biennials of printmaking is great. International manifestations of art, in general, contribute to positive changes in local art scenes. Although we live in the age of the Internet, with an increased offer of information, the direct experience of a specific event is still invaluable. The practice is to document the exhibitions. The basic documentation is in the form of a catalog, a book. There are also additional printed materials (posters, useful items with exhibition logos). Such events are almost always reported in the mass media. Television and radio interviews involving artists, art theorists and curators are of great importance. I think that the media in our country does not pay enough attention to these for our society important events.

Among the last few biennials of printmaking that I know of, the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts is an example of good practice in organizing such exhibitions. For about a month, the entire city promotes this important manifestation which has a decades-long tradition. The International Biennial of Graphics is an important international periodical exhibition of printmaking organized in Belgrade with a considerable tradition. I think that in the future this manifestation will be further improved in terms of media coverage in an appropriate way, and that this event will be given the increased attention it deserves as a cultural asset of recognized international importance.

Zoran Dimovski
Belgrade, August 2020

Translation from Serbian: Vanda Perović




Zoran Dimovski (Belgrade 1966), artist and printmaker. Graduated at the Faculty of Fine Arts, 1993, class professor Momčilo Antonović. Postgraduate studies at the same faculty, 1995. He is a professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts, department of Visual Arts, since 2000. He had more than 20 solo exhibitions since 1990, Belgrade, Novi Sad, Zrenjanin, Užice, Čačak. Paintings, graphic art, installations and video, he exhibited nationally and internationally, Lima, Varna, Ljubljana, Tokyo, Venice, Vienna, Krakow, Taipei, London, Stockholm, Tel Aviv, San Francisco, Pasadena, Bergen, Turkey, Kyoto, Prague, Vilnius... Selected awards: Award for Visual Arts at the October Salon, 1995; Award at the International Biennial “Dry Point”, Užice, 1996; Small Seal, Grafički kolektiv, Belgrade, 1997; Politika Award from the foundation “Vladislav Ribnikar”, 1998.

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