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Printmakers present ‘Art by the Bay’

Art by the Bay poster

By Winnie  Velasquez, VERA Files

The Printmakers Association of the Philippines  opened its studios at the back of the Folk Arts Theater to give the public a peek at the fascinating world of printmaking in "Art by the Bay"  for the past three  Saturdays and will continue to do so this Saturday, Dec. 8.

From 5 p.m. onwards, visitors  will enjoy a magnificent view of the sunset but have  a chance to meet their favorite artists and see them at work.

This is the second time that PAP is presenting Art by the Bay. Last year it drew a good crowd prompting the organization to make it an annual event. PAP holds regular workshops on printmaking.  For six Saturdays, Benjie Torrado Cabrera has been conducting a workshop on etching. It ends on December 8 just before the start of the fourth Saturday edition of Art by the Bay. Those who come to the PAP studio early can watch the workshop students at work and observe how prints are made.

Since it was founded by Manuel Rodriguez, Sr. in 1968 along with Adiel Arevalo, PAP has upheld the illustrious tradition of printmaking in the country and made fine art available to more people. Some of our National Artists have produced fine prints among their most notable works. PAP's roster of members reads like a Who's Who in Philippine art.  BenCab's prints are as widely collected as his paintings.

Other notable printmaker-painters are: Raul Isidro, Pandy Aviado, Benjie Cabrera, Fil dela Cruz, Brenda Fajardo, Ambie Abaňo, and Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi, Imelda Cajipe-Endaya, Ling Quisumbing.  The works of some of these artists along with those of recent 13 Artist awardee Joey Cobcobo, Janus dela Cruz, Noel Farol, Buen Abrigo, and Angelo Magno will be among those on exhibit and sale in Art by the Bay on December 8.

"Printmaking is an intricate process done entirely by hand thus it is considered an original art form. It entails transferring images from a prepared matrix onto the final material. Since the matrix is permanent, the process can be repeated allowing the creation of multiple originals and variation prints. With multiple originals, an artwork can have further reach. It can be exhibited at various places at the same time, and more people can acquire it. Because it is done in editions, prints are very affordable compared to other art mediums. Truly, it is people-friendly, a very democratic art form. Someone starting an art collection can best begin by acquiring original fine prints," says Angelo Magno, PAP secretary.

Printmaking is done using a wide variety of materials and techniques. Below, Magno explains the four basic printing processes:

  • In relief printing, ink is applied on the surface of the matrix, which is transferred on the final ground. For example, in woodcut and rubbercut, the design is drawn on a piece of wood or rubber. The background or non-printing area is cut away with a carving tool. Using a roller, ink is then applied to the matrix which is pressed on the paper, fabric or other surfaces. Designs produced in this process are usually very bold and raw. All you need is ink, a roller, and usually a spatula for rubbing and transferring the image from matrix to paper.
  • In the intaglio process, scratches and incisions are made into a plate or matrix. The plate is usually made of copper, zinc or an acrylic sheet, which holds the ink or pigment. The artist pushes the ink with a squeegee onto the entire plate and wipes off the excess ink on the surface, leaving the ink only in the incised lines. A damp sheet of paper is placed on top of the plate and the plate is run through the etching press, which pushes the paper into the groves, lifting the ink out of the groves. Drypoint, etching, engraving, mezzotint and aquatint are some techniques under the intaglio process. In contrast to the relief method, the images produced in etching are more fluid and spontaneous.
  • The planographic technique pertains to lithography. It is based on the principle that oil and water repel each other, and limestones are naturally attracted to oil. In handmade lithographs, the artist draws or paints directly onto the limestone with a greasy lithographic pencil or touché. It is then treated with acid accordingly and the ink adheres only on the drawn areas when rolled on. Soft lines and varied tones are achieved from lithographs.
  • Serigraphy is also known as the silkscreen process, a method also used in shirt printing. In contemporary silkscreen, artists use screens made of a fine nylon or polyester mesh. Selected areas of the screen are blocked out by screen fillers or paper stencils, and the ink is prevented from penetrating through the mesh to the paper or textile underneath. Serigraphy is most favoured by artists who use a lot of color in their works.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

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