I have been a lithographer for many years, focusing on images of man’s relationship to his environment. This is a vast subject as you can imagine, and artists have been grappling with it for centuries. There is a massive quantity of ideas on this subject in my head and every once in a while, something surprising emerges in artistic form. But an artist always needs a new source of inspiration. Making prints is not always about the topic you have selected. It is most often about how that topic is to be rendered in terms of the unique qualities of the medium in use—ink, paper, roller, etc. If you focus too closely on the meaning you want to convey, the forms, textures and patterns will slip into the background and the work becomes a mere illustration. Manipulating the medium is what printmaking is all about, extracting the essence of the materials of lithography and embedding them into a concrete form.
I don’t want to wax philosophical today in my blog, but rather I want to explain my motivation. I hope you will find this a more interesting approach. It comes from my own milieu in Taipei where I now reside. It is a microcosm of other areas in terms of human endeavor and working the land. Its culture is special to me and I am always exploring new aspects of it, particularly the artisan-made objects—the ones locals use and not those for the tourists. I want to capture its true nature in a series of prints that will form part of a future exhibition in Germany.
I am writing to help me clarify my intention right now. I am taking apart several vintage ceiling fans that I found in an old shop that specializes in furnishings and fixtures from other eras. I confirmed their authenticity as vintage on this web site: https://www.ceilingfanchoice.com/vintage-cottage-antique-ceiling-fan-ideas/. The inventory is absolutely awe inspiring. It is a feast for the artist’s eyes in terms of textures, patterns, colors, shapes, and sizes. The fans I found in no way resemble those of the modern day. They are not shiny and sleek with perfectly stained wood blades. They are not examples of metal work as is the new trend. They reflect a way of doing things from long ago. What I like best is the shape of each blade. I posted photos of them on Facebook and they attracted a lot of likes. The material is woven fiber and the texture is still magnificent.
These elements will form the underlying theme of my composition and dictate how I will alter the lithography process to convey their essence. So much is possible when you look at ordinary and mundane objects and contemplate the genius that went into the original design. You can imitate or otherwise recreate your own version by manipulating aspects of the form and composition. A ceiling fan to me resembles a kind of star with a central focal point and radiating spokes. It is also a bit lie a wheel without a rim but more abstract in nature. The antique fan got me thinking, and while I am not going to be literal and copy it in my print, I will avail myself of the ideas it generates.