Works of painstaking detail capture landscapes’ beauty
by Nancy Worssam, special to the Seattle Times
January 14, 2010
Woodblock prints are among the lesser-known mainstream art forms.
Reduction woodcuts are even less familiar.
The prints of two reduction-woodcut artists now displayed at Davidson Galleries serve as a wonderful introduction to this type of art for newcomers. For those who are already aficionados, it’s high-quality work to enjoy.
Gordon Mortensen and Siemen Dijkstra offer minutely detailed landscapes that are both intimate and expansive. Mortensen, an American, is considered one of the best artists working in this genre today. The much-younger Dijkstra, whose work equals that of Mortensen, was born and lives in The Netherlands.
In woodblock printing, the artist carves a different block for each ink color. The blocks are used one after the other to lay down the ink and complete the picture on each paper in that edition.
Reduction-woodcut prints are made from a single block. The artist carves the block for the first ink application and prints that. Then he cleans the ink from the block and carves for the next color. The cutting, inking and printing are repeated many times to create the subtle color variations and pictorial refinements demanded by the artist. There’s no turning back in this process. If each step isn’t perfectly executed, the prints are not ideal…