Printing Presses and Autumn Sweaters


Printmaking is an artform that never ceases to fascinate me. Maybe it's because my brain is incapable of thinking like a printmaker; layers and negatives, etchings and reliefs, blocks of color. I have a hard time understanding how one can visualize multiple colors and shapes to overlay and press into one continuous idea...and maybe this is a big part of why Maya Malachowski Bajak's show at The Flying Object in Hadley Massachusettes was so appealing...or maybe it had something to do with how phenomenal the work itself is?

The Flying Object is a volunteer nonprofit printing press, gallery, bookstore, classroom, performance venue- everything one could want in terms of an alternative/independent artistic nexus. They even have a hands on workshop to teach one how to use a letterpress, this is some sort of heaven to me?! The work in Maya's show, titled Liminal Spaces, displays a range of contrast that  I never knew existed, more shades of varying blacks and greys than one can possibly imagine, inviting in the depths of their somehow cheery, hopeful darkness. Even though the prints feel completely flat- the shapes feeling as very defined shapes- there is somehow a sculptural feel to them as well, like they were cubic forms rolled into dense, flat blocks- does that make any sense? Kind of like how I feel about seeing Blinky Palermo pieces in person- his color fields so placid, so thick, yet hedging in on the present human hand to the point that you get this sense of something deep skimming just below the surface, a framed still pond with lives hidden underneath...or something.

The inky images Maya chooses to depict are just as intriguing as her craft: a ship brimming with city buildings, a cross section of an earth's crusted layers with land & structures sitting atop, her images often suspended in a void of time. The tiny (most of the work was measurable in inches, the largest a piece of near prehistoric looking birds in flight along a shoreline, a few inches high yet a narrow panoramic stretching across a whole gallery wall- beautiful!) cutaways of chunky scenery felt part like scientific observations (like a specimen to be investigated), part like a desolate geologic past/present/future (like the photographic landscapes of Joel Sternfeld), and part like the anxiousness of architecture/the confused artifice of modern man/the tension in a suspension bridge (like the best of a poem by D.C. Berman). This was one show where content and craft really combined to make for something of awe and perfection- I loved it! So, if you happen to find yourself in the small printing press area of a slowly orange-ing, downright Autumnal New England, definitely stop in to see the work of someone who is seriously worth noting in the contemporary print-making scene!



 

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