The Making of Triumphs and Laments Woodcuts: Mantegna, The Flood, and Lampedusa
I was fortunate enough to have seen Kentridge’s monumental mural on the banks of the Tiber in Rome last year.
So I was very excited to see the 3 huge woodcuts based on images from this Rome mural and now on exhibition at David Krut projects in Parkwood. Entitled: The Making of Triumphs and Laments Woodcuts: Mantegna, The Flood, and Lampedusa, the exhibition runs until 30th July. Apart from the mammoth scale and the visceral quality of these 3 large scale woodcuts, it is also fascinating to see the original wood blocks displayed alongside the final prints (each from an edition of 12) along with an explanation of the technique and process used to create the final works. Kentridge (ever the arch-collaborator in every positive sense of the word) worked with Jillian Ross, master printer of David Krut Workshop (DKW) and her assistants Sbongiseni Khulu and Chad Cordeiro. The exhibition wall caption below explains the incredibly demanding process in making these woodcuts:
Each print is made from multiple blocks of wood and is printed on several sheets of paper that, when assembled, fit together like pieces of a puzzle. According to the David Krut text: ‘Some sheets were cut at sharp angles, others torn. Pieces were also attached to the work by Kentridge in the last stages of production and allowed for overlaps of image and movement. Pins were used for the final assembly of the work and to ensure that each sheet rests correctly on top of the next.’ The Flood is printed from 11 blocks with the final work comprised of 15 individual sheets; Mantegna from 13 woodblocks and one linoleum block; and Lampedusa printed from 12 woodblocks with the final work comprised of 28 individual sheets. All the works are shown alongside the individual pieces of wood blocks.
The Flood 2016
Kentridge draws inspiration for his iconography from a variety of source materials including photographs, existing public art monuments in Rome and elsewhere, his own work, movies etc. The Flood is based on a 1937 photograph of people escaping a flood of the Tiber.
Mantegna 2016 -2017
Mantegna is based on Corselet Bearers, the 6th panel in a group of 9 paintings entitled The Triumphs of Caesar (1484–1492) made by Andrea Mantegna for the Gonzaga Ducal Palace in Mantua . The murals depict a triumphal military parade celebrating the victory of Julius Caesar in the Gallic Wars. They were acquired by Charles I in 1629 and are now in the Hampton Court Palace.
This part of the mural was based on a photograph of a group of Eritrean widows at a memorial service in Levinsky Park, Tel Aviv in 2013. The service was in memory of victims of a shipwreck off the island of Lampedusa earlier that year.
The woodcut based on this image takes the single woman on the right and it is in the Lampedusa image that the technique of fitting together multiple pieces of paper printed from the woodcut blocks becomes most clear. Alongside the image of the woodcut seen below, is the display of the various printed sheets of papers which make up the final woodcut image.
And the best of all is that there are more woodcuts in the making. This is a fascinating insight into the collaborative process and technical challenges and details of a memorable project.