San Francisco

Henry Rasmussen

Stanford Art Gallery

One hundred prints by 20 contemporary Greek artists, representing a high achievement in the use of materials, an understanding of international expressions, and a paucity of individual initiative and imagination; and monoprints by a Marin County artist who has pressed this method about as far as it will go.

That the Greek printmakers, as represented here, have shown so little interest in developing any special national distinction is disappointing, although no one can deprecate their technical proficiency. Most of these exhibitors are well over 40, indicating that they have had time to make some personal evaluation of their world and their times, yet for the most part they are content to either follow the lead of other world art centers, presumably in an effort to prove their awareness of them, or to merely present romantic descriptions of their own immediate environs. It could be that, like many contemporary American printmakers, they are yet too concerned with techniques to give thought to content—the catalog gives no indication of the extent of their printmaking experience.

After the initial ripple of disappointment, however, one can enjoy this group as an informative demonstration of the esthetic orientations and plastic realizations of Greek artistic life since World War II, which is admittedly the reason for its circulation by “International Print Exchanges,” a program of print surveys from abroad, directed by Dr. Gordon W. Gilkey, Professor and Head, Department of Art, Oregon State University.

Rasmussen admits to the mystical influence of Zen in relating his prints to subject matter, but reneges that idea of surrealism which implies deliberate plumbing of the subconscious.

The process of monoprinting, wherein the subject is painted on a hard smooth surface, usually glass, and printed on a softer receiving surface, emphasizes the law of chance in much the same way that free-floating watercolor does, and so lends itself to analysis and rationalization of accidents of color and shape. Hence, one can say that monoprints, like Oriental pots, are born, not made.

Rasmussen takes full advantage of these liberties of the medium, and with careful manipulation he has brought forth some provocative landscapes whose heavy colors—blacks, deep blues and alizarines—pulled from a sliding plate, have a mysterious, otherworldly quality which sometimes evokes visions of voodoo practices.

Elizabeth M. Polley