In this interview - the first in an occasional series Artabase will run looking at the processes and inspiration behind the work of artists from different mediums – Rebecca Cannon speaks to "Jazmina Cininas":http://lists.artabase.net/artist/633-jazmina-cininas about her work with reduction linocuts.
*I saw ‘A two-legged dingo stole Lindy’s tears’ at C3 Gallery recently and fell in love with it immediately. The colours are beautiful, the light is very haunting and magical, an impressive feat with print.
For international viewers not aware of the theme in this particular work; Lindy Chamberlain was at the centre of one of Australia’s most publicised murder trials, in which she was convicted of killing her baby daughter, Azaria. The conviction was later overturned, however Lindy spent three years in jail. The event left a scar on the Australian justice system. It is a strong theme to address in an artwork. I predict this print will become a bit of an Australian classic.
Your reduction prints are incredibly detailed. On average how many colours/prints do you use, and how long does a single work take you to make?*
The number of colours can vary quite a bit, especially as some of the layers have multiple colours or blended rolls. Generally speaking, there are around 20 layers, with upwards of 30 colours on the larger prints. I sat down and worked out the hours one day, and I came up with around 600 hours per edition! So even printing full time, I am only able to edition 3 prints a year (4 on a really good year – and only if a couple of them are smaller)
What attracted you to printing?
I think it just really suits my anally-retentive control-freak, masochistic nature! I love the technical challenge of pushing a medium beyond expectations and getting my head around how to produce particular results and finishes that one would not normally associate with that medium. I love linocuts especially for the surface that multiple layers produce – for me it’s reminiscent of jewel-like enameling – and for the medium’s capacity to reference historical graphic traditions and contemporary pop aesthetics simultaneously. I have a pathologically long attention span and delight in undertaking absurdly laborious projects that normal human beings would be far too sensible to consider. I also love the fact that I can have my cake and eat it too, i.e. I can sell some prints and even give some away, while still keeping one for myself – especially important after I’ve devoted so much time to it!
How long have you been exhibiting?
I completed by BA in 1995, and have been exhibiting since, however things were a bit patchy in the beginning and only really began kicking into gear after I completed my Masters in 2002.
Any international exhibitions?
My Lindy Chamberlain print has just returned from a group show (Re-Visioning Australia, curated by Ruth Johnstone) in Belfast, as it happens, and I’ve also been selected for a group printmaking show that’s touring China next year. I took a solo exhibition, the first Girlie Werewolf Project, to Lithuania in 2002, which was great fun! Other than that, I’ve been short listed for award shows in Taiwan and Thailand, and an exchange portfolio project that I initiated has just been shown at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia.
About how much of your work is in collections? Any resold that you know of?
A reasonable amount of my work is in collections, though none resold, that I know of. I guess with multiples that’s less likely to happen until after the entire edition is sold. A number of major state and regional galleries have my work in their collections, including the National Gallery of Victoria, National Gallery of Australia, Victorian Arts Centre, City of Banyule, City of Fremantle, Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery, Warrnambool Art Gallery, Alice Springs Art Foundation and Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery. Again, the bonus with printmaking is that it’s relatively affordable, so galleries and private collectors are more likely to acquire one’s work.
What other media do you work in?
The linocuts take up so much of my time that I don’t get to work in other media as much as I would like! I do occasionally make an etching, to keep my hand in, so to speak. I have made a video, and I’m slowing piecing together another one. I’ve also worked with costumes and artist’s books and I’d love to devworks but I’m not sure if I’ll ever get the time! So for now, it’s basically linocuts, linocuts, linocuts.
Are you still working on your Girlie Werewolf project or are you working on something new?
Yes, I’m completely obsessed. I’m actually doing my PhD at the moment, for which I’m creating a Girlie Werewolf Hall of Fame. Someone asked me today whether I saw myself still working with girlie werewolves in twenty years’ time – if I’m still working with reduction linocuts that take 600 hours a piece there’s a good chance I will be! While it seems like a narrow, niche topic, it actually encompasses a whole range of eras and genres and philosophies and aesthetics, so there’s plenty of material to last me the rest of my life.
Who are you favourite artists and why?
This is a tough question, as there are so many talented people out there and I always feel like I leave out someone really important! Louise Weaver, Jennifer Mills and James Morrison all have exquisite ‘crafting’ skills and make work that is utterly beautiful but never purely decorative – there’s always an element of strangeness, which is very appealing. Kiki Smith is an especial favourite; her work with Red Riding Hood, St Genevieve and other Wolf Girls are particularly relevant to my own work. The poetry in Andy Goldsworthy’s work just takes my breath away. Heather Shimmen, Rew Hanks and Rona Green all work magic with lino. Cecilia Fogelberg’s audacious sense of naughtiness is irresistible. I also love early graphic work (the wood blocks and engravings from previous centuries, early book illustrations and playing card designs, etc.) and Lithuanian textiles and woodwork and Polish churches and Angela Carter’s rewritten fairy stories in The Bloody Chamber (she manages to achieve in text what I wish I could achieve with imagery) and Hayao Miyazaki’s animated epics with their mind-bogglingly inventive imagery and characterizations that always manage to defy expectations and stereotypes. And although she’s not technically an artist, Chantal Bourgault de Coudray’s academic study “The Cycle of the Werewolf” is absolute gold for any female werewolf scholar/artist.
Any upcoming shows? Any that you’ve curated?
I have a major curatorial project, “The Enchanted Forest: New Gothic Storytellers”, touring around regional Victoria and NSW at the moment. It features six artists – two printmakers, two painters and two installation artists – all of whom work with mythological/culturally constructed notions of the natural world, and finishes up at the Tweed River Art Gallery in November 2009. The tour is being (superbly) managed by NETS Victoria, who have also put together a fabulous website, with artist bios, interviews and an education resource. (check it out at www.netsvictoria.org/enchanted) There’s also the China exhibition next year, and – closer to home – two exhibitions curated by Rona Green: “I saw and heard of none like me” (venue to be confirmed), and “52”, an exchange portfolio project, at Geelong Gallery. There’s always something else that pops up at short notice, and I also enter a number of award shows in the course of the year. The Lindy Chamberlain piece, for example, is heading off to the Burnie Print Prize in Tasmania early next year.
Galleries which represent you?
Images copyright Jazmina Cininas. Courtesy the artist and Port Jackson Press.
Jazminas works can be purchased through Port Jackson Press.