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Collector's Choice

Leonie bradley

It feels like an indulgence to be invited to reveal what prints I would choose. As Editor of Printmaking Today, I have to put aside my own taste and make objective decisions, including how the print will work in the pages of the magazine. None of these come into play when I buy artwork for my walls at home. I follow a gut feeling, not an impulse, but whether I am drawn back to a print several times.

I thought I knew Lisa Wright’s print Sealed Silence (2018) very well since I had been working with the image for a few weeks, having chosen it for Printmaking Today’s Spring 2018 cover. At the Fair that year, we had it enlarged on a huge banner advertising our stand but when I visited Advance Graphics, I hadn’t expected to be so enraptured by it. The screenprint is surprisingly small, but the gaze holds you from across the room. The tonal quality is extraordinary; it appears almost luminescent. A completely different portrait is Getting Ready (2018) by Marcelle Hanselaar. I already own one of her prints from the Petit Mort series and I am gripped by the darker side of her work.

Susan Goethel Campbell’s work raises difficult questions about human’s impact on the planet and her installations include “prints” of grass sods grown in vacuum-formed plastic displayed upside down to show the compacted, snarled mess of roots forced by the human hand. Lost City No. 4 (2020) is from a series of woodblock prints punctuated with tiny holes to create the city lights. They create an optical illusion where the lights appear to be back-lit as the eye sees them glowing brighter than the white backing board. Emma Stibbon RA also highlights our devastating impact on the environment observed during extensive research in desolate locations. Drift (2020) was created after a residency in Svalbard, one of the northernmost populated places in the world.

Guo Shang’s woodcut, Collections of Puppet People (2019) depicts the stories of 54 people in China, embracing life despite their disabilities. And yet, why are the last two squares unfinished, the story is incomplete. I am intrigued and slightly unsettled by this ambiguous ending. Michael Taylor’s Flood (2020) available as a series, similarly is a collection of stories; people afflicted by natural disaster.

One of the most exciting things about the Fair is seeing work by Old Masters rub up alongside modern and contemporary prints and tracing the influences through art history. Whilst I mainly buy work by living artists, as this is a dream gallery with unlimited budget, I will pick timeless works by Judd, Rembrandt, Giacometti and Chadwick: a perfectly formed untitled Judd from 1968; St Jerome in a dark Chamber (1642), an exquisite study of light by Rembrandt; Lynn Chadwick’s Seated Elektra (1969) and Alberto Giacometti’s Composition I (1934/35).

I could stare all day at this seemingly impossible, Escher-esque web of steel supports and never untangle it. Winters Light, Hunters Point (2018) is a tightly cropped composition by Jenny Robinson edging towards the abstract. Gillian Garnica’s abstract images are distilled from the world around her. Kaateh (2017) shows strings from a fallen kite caught in a tree after being cut down during a kite flying festival in India.

We shortlisted arches – across (2020) by Prudence Ainslie for the Jerwood Printmaking Today Prize at last year’s Fair. It is a captivating image; the light draws you into the space and I admire the technical excellence. With a similar aesthetic, I am attracted to Still Life (2018) by Nick Richard, fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers.

I could pick many, many more. It’s not the obvious shouty ones, but the ones that aren’t easily resolved that hold my attention for longer.