Wilma Cruise David Krut Project (2006) | Art.co.za | Art in South Africa
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Cruise at Krut : Wilma Cruise Works on Paper 2006 | The Krut Suite (2003 – 2005)

My usual way of preparing to work on a sculpture is to photograph a figure, photocopy the print, alter it, draw on it, draw from it and write about it. This process continues throughout the making of the sculpture and even after it is complete when I wrestle to access its final meaning through line and word. Thus I fill note book after note book.

It was David Krut who suggested that I formalise these private musings into a series of prints. In any case he has always thought of etchings as three-dimensional works, so it was not a stretch to imagine me, a sculptor, turning my hand to the print medium. It seemed to him a natural way to proceed since so much of my thinking happens on paper. Thus it was that he invited me to work at the DKW studio through the latter half of 2005 and into 2006. To this end he offered me the assistance of print master Jill Ross. She proved to be invaluable. Up until that point I knew little about the print-making process and what I did know had put me off. The emphasis on technique over content reminded me uncomfortably of ceramics in which process is more important than subject matter. I did not want to be bound by convention.

I needn’t have worried. The DKW studio in general and Jill in particular encourage an experimental approach to print making. I was free to push limits with Jill standing by ever vigilant to see that I did not fly over the technical edge. The works in effect became a collaboration in the best of traditions - a partnership between artist and print maker.

My first prints (apart from a small etching) used the modern method of “prontos” – in effect a lithographic process using a polyester plate. The initial prontos that rolled off the press looked much like the pages of my note books. I decided that I had to push beyond the known and with Jill’s prompting I entered the world of colour by working on a series of monotypes. This was more like it. I was on unfamiliar ground and could embark on a phase of discovery. Stimulated by the monotypes of Colbert Mashile, who was also working at DKW at the time (although not on the same days as me), I shamelessly ‘cribbed’ his palette by using oranges, earth reds and browns.

The image I chose to work with was a nude bald female figure delineated in rough outline. As a cipher for my own alter- ego she is placed centrally in the format together with a small animal – usually a horse or a dog. Although each monotype is unique, it hints at further possibilities by leaving its ghost on the plate and that one in turn suggests further manipulations. Thus the monotypes evolved in a series of “progressions” which usually numbered three prints and in one case Progression # 5 – Allegro con Brio, five. In terms of subject matter the monotypes explore the ‘space between’. This has been an area of artistic exploration for a number of years now. I am curious as to the nature of non-verbal communication - that which exists between all sentient beings be they of human or animal nature.

While I was making monotypes, I did not neglect the pronto technique and Jill and I began to push the boundaries of that method. Following on my habit of using the photocopied photograph in my sketch books I transferred photocopied images onto the polyester plates and then using the shadow images as a starting point I would add to the figures by drawing directly onto the plates. Jill and I were even able to create small editions from the prontos.

The figure I used in the pronto prints deal with a series entitled ‘Studies for a Sculpture’. The sculptures in question are a sequence of life size figures planned for exhibition in 2007 at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery. (The first of these sculptures will be exhibited alongside the pronto prints at Cruise at Krut on the 5 August.) Like the monotypes the pronto prints explore the idea of subliminal communication – the in-between space – the tension that emanates from bodies and between bodies.

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